Sanskrit name: Bhujangasana
Yoga pose category: Backbend, Chest opener, Heart opener
NOTE: As with all exercise, always seek the advice of a doctor if you have health issues or concerns before starting a new workout or exercise.
Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Press your elbows back into your body.
Press the tops of your feet and thighs and your pubis firmly into the floor.
Inhale and begin to straighten the arms to lift your chest off the floor, going only as far as you can while maintaining a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press your tailbone tower the pubis and life your pubis toward your belly-button. Narrow your hip points firmly but don't harden your butt.
Firm your shoulder blades against your back, expanding your side ribs forward. Lift through the top of your sternum and avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which can harden your lower back. Make sure to distribute the backbend evenly along your entire spine.
Hold the pose from 15 to 30 seconds, keeping your breathing consistently going. When done, release back to the floor with an deep exhale.
Why it works: A 2012 study published in the Journal of Education and Practice looked at the effects of the Cobra Pose along with other Yoga poses that focus on the back muscles. After the three-month long study concluded, researchers found that performing Yoga poses that focus on the back, including Cobra pose, led to significant improvements in overall back strength.