Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose Modified for Low Back Pain.
Do you have difficulty with prone spinal extensions? Does your lower back tend to jam when you practice them? If so, try out this pose out.
In this variation of Cobra utilizing a blanket and strap, it can help to strengthen your back and facilitate fuller use of the legs to provide space in your sacroiliac area.
Bind a strap to make a large loop out of it. Fold or roll a blanket and place it horizontally on mat ahead of you. Kneel and place the looped strap to encircle your lower legs, keeping them hip width apart. Make sure to place the strap to the thickest part of your calves.
Lower to the mat (prone) resting the pubis below the folded or rolled blanket. Lift one leg up an inch and pull it back. Repeat other leg. This is to keep good length in your back. Roll the legs slightly outward so that the heels, thighs and pelvis widen in back.
Push out strongly enough to feel the resistance of the strap. Pull tailbone toward heels and floor. This is to stabilize your low back, so you can stretch forward strongly and maintain that outward rotation down the legs.
Inhale and lift up onto your forearms briefly to pull your upper body away from your legs. Exhale and rest back down. Place your hands to sides of chest and lift shoulders away from floor, with your head still touching floor. Keep the shoulders square across. Contract the upper back muscles and move the scapulae in toward the spine.
To come into the full cobra pose, inhale and curl-up slowly with the head and chest, keeping the shoulders back and down. Press through the arms to lift more, but keep the arms bent with elbows beside the ribs as you lift into a comfortable range of movement for you. Continue pushing the thighs apart into the resistance of the strap. Breathe. Stay in the pose for several breaths, then soften and exhale as you release down to the mat.
Repeat if you like. When done, rest in childs pose.
Contraindications: Fused ankylosing spondylitis, Chiari malformations, bridging spondylitis, cervical spinal stenosis.
Helen Mikuska, E-RYT500, is a lead trainer for the SOYA 200 hr and 300 hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Trainings in Calgary, AB during each summer. She has been teaching yoga for 15 years, with an extensive background in Pilates, Nutrition Management, Ayurveda and Mantra. For more information on the upcoming 200 hour Foundation training and the 300 hour Professional training, go to yoga-teacher-training/200hr-immersion-calgary-alberta