Let's have a look now at cobra or Bhujangasan have a go at saying the Sanskrit -Bhujangasan. So for this we lie down on the belly. You place your hands underneath your shoulders, relax your forehead on the mat. Now activate from your glutes all the way down to your toes. And this will really help you come up into your Cobra.
Roll the shoulders back and down. Brush the nose against the mat, lift your chin up. And now press your hands into the floor to come up. You're still engaging your glutes all the way down to the toes. Remember to keep the shoulders away from the ears and the ebows to your sides.
After five long breaths, slowly descend down.
Release the head, one cheek on the mat and your arms to your sides. Now the cobra is actually a really good stretch of all of the front body and you contract and use all of the muscles of the neck, all along the back, upper back, middle back, lower back, your glutes, your legs all the way to your toes. You activate and engage the entire dorsal body and the front body is what you stretch. So it's actually the opposite of pachimttanasana, the west stretch (forward fold.)
Now let's take a really easy version of Cobra. This is called the baby cobra. So you have your hands underneath the shoulders, extending your legs to the back. You can have your legs hip-width apart, or you can have your legs together. Coming up, brush the nose against the mat, extend the neck. Lift the chest and you only go as high as if you lift your hands up, you're still in the same position, so only using the muscles of the back. So I lift my hands now, you can see that the position of the rest of the body doesn't change. So baby cobra, just as high as your back muscles will take you and that's a really nice way to learn your Cobra.
Now, there's another pose called the Sphinx Pose, which is related to the cobra, the Sphinx. It's a nice relaxing way to do a backbend. I place my elbows underneath my shoulders. Press my hands down in my forearms down and I keep my shoulders away from my ears. Now that gives me a nice stretch on my back without having to use so much muscular tension off the back and the legs.
If your students have a problem with the cervical spine or the neck in cobra or in Sphinx, instead of lifting the chin all the way up, they can just keep their head looking forward. Also, if they have a problem with the neck, make sure that the shoulders are down. So that way you're using the muscles around the shoulder blades, press the shoulder blades together. You will feel your lateral and descending trapezius.
Release down and relax.