Are you caught up in a cycle of stress?  And are you feeling fatigued as a result?

In backbends, we come face to face with the boundaries of our flexibility, patience and equanimity. But learning to practise within our limitations instead of struggling against them can make back bending an exercise in self-acceptance. Using the breath to control the depth and apex of a backbend offers an interesting encounter with self- acceptance.

This gentle backbend opens up the heart and lungs, stimulates abdominal organs and helps relieve stress and fatigue.  It stretches chest and lungs, so it’s therapeutic  for asthmatics.  It also helps to soothe sciatica, and stimulates the abdominal organs.

Cobra (Bhujangasana)


This gentle backbend opens the heart and lungs, stimulates abdominal organs and helps relieve stress and fatigue.


Step-by-step technique


Lie flat on your front on the floor. Stretch your legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders.

Press the tops of your feet and thighs and your pubis firmly into the floor.

On an inhalation, draw your chest upwards. Imagine your upper chest is a sail that has just caught a gust of wind. As you inhale, that sail rises, broadens and floats with ease. Maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and lift your pubis toward your navel. Narrow your hip points. Try not to harden the buttocks.

Firm the shoulderblades against your back, puffing your side ribs forward. Lift through the top of your sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.

Hold the pose between 15 and 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.

Contraindications and cautions


Back injury
Carpal tunnel syndrome

Modifications and props


If you are very stiff it might be better to avoid doing this pose on the floor. Brace a metal folding chair against a wall and do the pose with your hands on the front edge of the seat, balls of your feet on the floor.

Beginner’s tip


Don’t overdo the backbend. To find the height at which you can work comfortably and avoid straining your back, take your hands off the floor for a moment, so that the height you find will be through extension.




Your partner can help you learn about the correct action of the pelvis in a backbend. Once in the pose, have your partner straddle your legs. Have your partner bend over and grip the sides of your pelvis, thumbs towards your sacrum, then spread the back of your pelvis, encourage your outer hips to soften, and push your hip points towards each other.


For further instruction on the above please visit:  https://www.chrisjamesmindbody.com/blog

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For your top tips on creating optimal health in the mind and body, read Chris James new book –‘Mind Body Cleanse’ by Chris James (Penguin Vermilion, £14.99). Available from Amazon.

🤸‍♂️ Thanks to @bhutilondon for sharing the space!!

In this video, we learn some simple backbends.  If you push too hard or skip ahead to complex backbends without first learning the simple, foundational ones, you run the risk of crunching your lower back, depleting your energy, or even stirring up anxiety.

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