Use Yoga's Cobra Pose to Find Inner Healing
By Johanna Steinfeld
The wonderful thing about practicing yoga is discovering a deeper connection with your physical self, deeper breath, calm mind and an ability to accept what is before you.
The scary thing about beginning to practice yoga is that there is no place to hide from what you carry with you today. With the passing of time, life experiences and postural habits, parts of the body become tight and restricted. We feel these changes in the form of stiffness and pain.
If you have set an intention this year to work toward self improvement, that truly means letting go of things retained that no longer serve you. This includes letting go of past hurt, heartache and correcting poor postural habits that have caused collapse and weakness in certain parts of the body. For example, knee pain and hip pain can often be healed by paying greater attention to how you stand and walk.
Most of our days we move through life oblivious to what has happened in our bodies. We forget that the body is the receptacle for all we experience, and sometimes what we retain can cause us more damage physical than we realize.
Heartache and stress will manifest itself as tension in your shoulders, neck and chest. Sitting for long periods will be felt throughout the hips, lower back and legs. Poor posture and slouching will cause weakness in the shoulders and back as well as shallow breathing due to collapsing through the chest. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to weakness in the arms, legs, feet and to losing the natural fluidity of the spine.
Any of this sound familiar?
Yoga offers an opportunity to put the body into different shapes which in turn open us up and helps to restore what once was. It is this release that leads us down the path to becoming happier and more well rounded individuals.
Remember, you are a work in progress and everyday offers a fresh opportunity for growth.
Learning the cobra pose
Move slowly and take the time to feel each part of your body as you learn Cobra pose.
Transfer this lesson into how you move through your daily life. When we slow down we are more open to what’s happening around us, and more open to what’s ahead.
Embrace and embody your inner Cobra and get on the path back to wellness. Strengthen and release tension in your spine, back, shoulders, chest, arms and neck all with a single pose.
Lie down on your belly and place your palms underneath your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide apart and press all parts of your hand down into the floor Begin by drawing your naval in and up which helps lengthen your tailbone towards your heels.
Lengthen your legs long and press the tops of your feet and all ten toenails into the floor.
Lift your head without lifting anything else and stay here for a full breath. Next lift your chest off the floor without using your hands to help lift you up at all. Pause here for another breath. Begin to engage your shoulders by drawing your shoulder blades together and down behind your heart. This will enable your shoulder blades to aid in lifting you higher off the floor without relying solely on the strength of your arms. The other benefit found here is to begin to strengthen your rhomboid muscles which serve to keep your chest open and your posture aligned without collapsing your chest.
Continue to lift yourself up and press your hands into the floor. Come up slowly keeping your elbows in towards your body and shoulders away from your ears. Resist the impulse to quickly straighten your arms but rather keep a bend in your elbows to maintain your shoulder blades on your back and your shoulder tops away from your ears. Stretch your legs away from your hips and maintain the engagement of naval towards your spine.
Any discomfort in your lower back? Try not lifting up as high or even widening your legs a little further apart.
Once in the pose, stay here for 3 to 5 breaths. Lower down and rest then move into the posture 2 more times.
Follow along with me for different Cobra variation on this months Calgary Herald Yoga Break Video.
Practice Cobra pose mindfully and with awareness, and only on days you want to feel good.