101 variations on the cobra

The “cobra”:http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/asana/cobra.html is one of the most recognized poses in yoga. However, there is much more to this pose than meets the eye. Inspired by “??The Anatomy of Hatha Yoga??”:http://www.randomjohn.info/wordpress/2006/01/21/on-yoga-and-the-anatomy-of-hatha-yoga/, I played around with the pose some. Try doing the cobra with the following variations _once you’re comfortable with the basics_ (know the rules before you break them!):

* pushing up with the hands alongside the chest (palms on the floor)
* pushing up with the hands alongside the chest (fingertips on the floor, palms in the air)
* using the _erector spinae_ and deep back muscles to lift you partway into the pose
* going into the pose with the tailbone tucked, and maintaining that
* going into the pose with moderate tension in the adductors and calves (holding the feet together)
* going into the pose with the lower body completely relaxed (don’t try to tuck the tailbone)
* going into the pose by isometrically pulling the hands back toward the feet and using the back muscles for lift
* going into the pose with feet pointed
* going into the pose with feet tucked
* going into upward dog with feet pointed/tucked
* going into _rajakapotasana_ (or trying for it) (i.e. legs bend at knees, feet and head move toward each other — very hard to do full pose but worth trying)
* looking straight ahead vs. looking at ceiling (intermediate)

Each of these variations offers a different experience. Add to the mix the different ways you can experiment with breathing:

* inhale coming into the pose, exhale coming down
* exhale coming into the pose, inhale coming down

I think I’m going to spend a lot more time doing cobras. I’ve only tried a few of these variations, and they are quite different.

Of course, the complement to the cobra is the locust, and that is known to be a humbling pose. No cobra-based practice would be complete without it and at least some of its several variations:

* one-legged
* use low body only for lift
* add forearms for lift
* interlock hands (intermediate)

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