Yoga is one of the best exercise and meditation routines that anyone can pick up.
Not only is it one of the most customizable health and lifestyle routines that you can pick up out there, but it’s also one of the best for stretches that can help push your body and mind, breaking new grounds that you otherwise thought may have been impossible for you.
And, of all of these many poses, one of our favorites has to be the Cobra pose.
Conceptually simple, but also a great jumping-on point for many other yoga poses, there’s a good chance that many people first got started with yoga through the cobra poses, perhaps even some people reading this!
With such a popular and simple yoga pose under their belts, it’s no wonder that so many people have tried to create variations of this iconic position, with mixed success.
In this guide, we want to take you through some of the best versions of the Cobra pose out there.
Some will be slight variations to fill out your yoga routines with, while others might seem pretty drastic in their differences. And all of them are ready to help push your boundaries!
Low Cobra Pose (Hasta Bhujangasana)
So, in a list of some of the best versions of the yoga poses, where should we start this guide?
Well, with the original, of course! After all, how are we going to compare how good these different versions are if we don’t know what the original is supposed to look like and do in the first place?
Often considered a pretty beginner-friendly back-bend yoga pose, this is a favorite position for many yoga routines to finish on, as it manages to flex and push the core, abdominal and back muscles, while also being the perfect gentle position to help relax your body after an intense workout.
It’s also a remarkably good pose to ease soothe and ease back pain through physical activity if you’re doing it right.
You start this pose by laying flat on your stomach on a flat surface (ideally a yoga mat with plenty of traction). Your feet should be pointed downwards and away from you, and your hands should be placed solid against the mat, with your elbows tucked towards your body.
From here, you can push away from the mat with your hands, raising your upper body upwards. As you push away, remember to push your chest out, and stretch your neck upwards.
So that you are looking upwards slightly at the ground or area in front of you.
As we said, this is the perfect gentle yoga pose that can serve as either the perfect finish to a routine or the ideal jumping-on point for some of the other poses on this list!
Flow 1 (Cobra Into Downward Dog)
So, here we are, at our first variation!
Well, technically, variation might be kind of a stretch here. Because we’re not so much teaching you a whole new version of the cobra pose, but a sequence that you can incorporate into your yoga routines!
Because many yoga poses often lead into one another, you’ll find that the cobra pose is often used to help connect two different poses that may otherwise be quite distinct from one another and difficult to transition or don’t work the same areas of the body as well as the cobra pose does.
This sequence starts in child pose, with the body in a kneeled position, and the head facing the ground, with the arms stretched over your head and splayed on the ground, fully in contact with the floor or mat.
As you exhale, you can start to raise the torso and push up from the mat into the cobra pose that we covered in the last entry.
As you inhale, you then tuck your feet inwards, so that the flats of your feet are now touching the floor. From here, you push back your arms and curl your back inwards, until your arms and feet are holding you up in a downward V position.
This is the downward dog pose and the end of the sequence. Hold this pose for a few seconds (10 to 15), then return to the cobra pose on the next exhale.
Repeat this rep 3 to 5 times if you’re looking to incorporate it into a wider routine, or hold the downward dog position for a few breathing cycles.
Cobra Pose With Blanket
Of course, despite how much we have talked about cobra being a relatively easy pose to pull off, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t even easier or more comfortable versions to try out.
This particular version is proof of that. This pose is effectively the same as the low cobra pose that we covered at the beginning of this guide. Only here, there is a blanket that is placed under the stomach and diaphragm, usually folded so that it is at least a little raised from the ground.
You may think that this is a completely relaxed pose, and there’s an element of truth to that. The blanket underneath your diaphragm does provide a level of extra support to your lower body.
However, the benefits of this pose aren’t necessarily for working muscles, but for creating clear breathing pathways through the body.
Raising the upper body, while also supporting the chest, creates space to breathe for people who may otherwise struggle to, perhaps due to large breasts or belly obstructing clear airways.
Plus, this is a great cobra pose to try out if you have either mobility/movement issues, or have pretty severe lower back pain that might otherwise prevent you from starting with the classic low cobra pose. And as long as you are pushing your limits, isn’t that enough?
Belly Down Vinyasa
Building off of the foundation that we’ve covered with both the basic cobra pose and the short cobra pose, into something a little more advanced.
This is a sequence that we would recommend to folks who have a decent understanding of the basics of yoga, as this is quite a long sequence for novices.
You’ll start this pose in the plank position as if you are about to perform a push-up.
From here, you’ll then move into the Four-Limbed Staff Pose, where the arms go from benign straight to much more bent and tucked into the body, then transition into a cobra stance, with the chest pushed out, the toes not pointed downwards, and the warms stretched out.
However, the sequence doesn’t end here. Now, you bring your toes back into contact with the mat, pushing your body slightly off the mat, with only your feet and hands touching it.
This is the upwards-facing dog, which moves pretty seamlessly into the downwards-facing dog that we covered before
As we said, this is a comparatively advanced sequence that uses the cobra pose, so make sure that you understand each of the positions that we covered here before trying this one out for yourself.
While a single cycle of this sequence will stretch your core, upper body, and even calf muscles, we recommend 2 or 3 reps once you do have a decent grasp on it.
High/Full Cobra Pose (Urdhva Bhujangasana)
So, remember how the first pose that we covered was the ‘original’ cobra yoga pose? Well, that’s technically both true and untrue.
See, while it is a variant of the cobra pose that many others are based on, it is only half of the original cobra pose, also described as the ‘ow cobra’.
If you’re looking for a version that extends and pushes your body much further than the low cobra, this is the version that you’ll want to try out for yourself!
This version works pretty much all of the same muscles that a low cobra does but with greater intensity, as well as exercising the muscles around your neck.
As we’ve already mentioned, this pose effectively has the same steps as our first entry, only the push-up from the ground and the pushing out of the chest is more extreme.
You’ll be pushing them to the limit here, and holding that position for a similar amount of time, ideally coming back into a less extreme pose on an inwards breath or exhale.
If you’re comfortable doing the low cobra, then perhaps this is the perfect next step to test your limits!
Chair Cobra Pose
Like the blanket cobra pose that we covered earlier, this is a perfect pose to try out if you have limitations to your mobility, or perhaps don’t have the necessary floor space for a full cobra pose available.
By using a cushion on your lap, you can still stretch the back muscles that this exercise is best for, without needing a mat, or perhaps getting yourself into an uncomfortable position on the ground.
Perfect for yoga practitioners with limited mobility!
So, as you can see, despite this just being one pose out of hundreds of different ones to choose from in yoga, many people enjoy coming back to and coming up with variations on the cobra pose. From sequences to variations for added or reduced difficulty, there’s a ton to pick from.
So, with the options that we’ve given you, there’s only one question left to ask:
Which one will you choose to try out first?