7 Reasons Why We Love Cobra Stretching

Known in Sanskrit as Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose or Stretch is one of only a few postures that are taught across all levels and styles of yoga.

We often describe cobra as a backbend, but don’t worry, it’s not as brutal as it sounds.  Cobra stretch is simply a form of spinal extension which can be super helpful for those of us who hunch our spines forward whilst sitting at a desk all day.

Cobra stretch asks us to lie on our tummy, with our legs hip width apart.  We then point our toes, so the tops of our feet are on the floor.  We place our hands under our shoulders and push the floor away until we are lifted into spinal extension.

Low cobra stretch keeps our stomach on the floor with our elbows bent, and full cobra stretch extends our elbows out just keeping our pubic bone on the floor.  Gazing straight ahead keeps the neck long.

Here are 7 reasons why we love the cobra stretch:

  • It engages many muscles,

When performing the cobra stretch, we engage the hamstrings, glutes, spinal extensors, muscles in the upper back like trapezius and rhomboids and also the triceps.

  • It stretches many muscles,

When performing the cobra stretch it stretches the tops of the feet, the hip flexors, the abdominals, pectoralis muscles, biceps and the cervical flexors on the front of the next.

  • It supports mental well-being,

A study of 38 adults found that an 8-week hatha yoga intervention, which included the cobra stretch improved scores on depression severity.  Scores of self-esteem and self-efficacy were also improved.

  • May relieve lower back pain,

A review of randomised control trials exploring the impact of yoga on chronic lower back pain found that in the short term, yoga could significantly reduce the perception of pain.

In addition, data has suggested that yoga, with the inclusion of cobra stretch can alleviate the anxiety associated with lower back pain.

  • It may reduce inflammation,

Studies have found that after a 3-month yoga programme, with the inclusion of cobra stretch, inflammatory markers are significantly reduced.  Inflammation is a necessary feature of the body’s immune system, but it can sometimes get a little out of hand.  This can lead to chronic inflammation.  Inflammation is like the porridge in Goldilocks and the three bears, we need just enough in the body to do its job.  To this end, anything that helps us modulate the inflammatory response is beneficial.

  • Reduce Fatigue,

Following a 3-month yoga programme, results indicated that participants report reduced fatigue scores.  Vitality is also reportedly higher.

When you are asking your body to do something, it mobilises energy and gets to work.  This is the phenomena we experience before we workout.  We struggle to get going, but once we’re done, we feel as though we can tick every single task off our “to do” list!

  • May help us sleep better,

On the other side of the scale, yoga may help us sleep better.  How is this possible?  On one hand it helps us get up and go, but on the other it helps us relax and sleep better?

It is thought that yoga helps us sleep better in many ways:

  • Mindfulness – yoga helps us be in the moment. This is a form of mindfulness, and it is thought that mindfulness can increase melatonin levels and therefore reduce night-time disturbances.
  • Breathing regulation – deep breathing is a form of relaxation which can help induce sleep.
  • Regular exercise – moderate exercise multiple times a week can support healthy sleep behaviour. It can reduce sleep onset – meaning when we go to bed, we fall straight to sleep as opposed to lying awake ruminating about the day.

If you would like to include more yoga, and cobra stretch, in your weekly routine, then check out the programmes we have on offer:

Yoga Basics

Asana Mindful Yoga

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Yoga for Better Sleep

Yoga for Better Posture