The Snake stretch, also known as Nagasana, Bhujangasana or the Cobra pose, is an excellent yoga asana for stretching your back. By lying flat on your belly and arching your back by pushing up with your arms, you contract the muscles in your lower back. This elongates your hip flexors, which, when tight, can cause back pain and immobility. By incorporating the Snake stretch into your regular yoga routine, you should achieve a stronger and more flexible back.
Begin by lying flat on your stomach on your mat. Stretch your legs as far back as you can. Place your arms on the floor with your elbows close to your sides.
Press the tops of your feet, your thighs and pelvis against the floor. Maintain this pressure for the duration of the stretch.
Inhale, then slowly start to straighten your arms to lift your chest up off the mat. Raise yourself as far as you can comfortably, without letting your pelvis lift up off the mat.
Tighten your glutes, then slowly pull your shoulder blades together and in. Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds, taking normal breaths. Exhale, then release and lower yourself back to the prone position.
- You may not be flexible enough to lift your back very far at the beginning, but by performing this exercise regularly you will gradually increase the flexibility of your back. If this exercise is too difficult, start with a gentler stretch such as the Sphinx pose before moving into the Snake.
- Always warm up before attempting this stretch. Begin with relaxation and deep breathing exercises to warm up your muscles for the pose.
- Do not perform this exercise if you have recently suffered from a back injury, or are pregnant.
Todd Maternowski began writing in 1996 as one of the co-founders of "The Chicago Criterion." He joined the local online news revolutionaries at Pegasus News in 2006, where he continues to work to this day. He studied religion at the University of Chicago.