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The Science Behind Cobra Pose: Understanding the Physical and Mental Benefits

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Mar 14, 2023

cobra pose


The Cobra pose classifies under the type of movement called backbends, where your spine is arching backward — better known as spinal extension.

Moving in this manner is beneficial for your spine health due to its counteracting nature of conventional spine movement like rounded backs throughout the day from work and our devices.

This exercise offers many benefits to physical and mental health and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine.


How to Perform a Cobra Pose


Follow these simple steps to perform a Cobra pose. You can slightly adjust the movement to fit your level of flexibility and fitness.

  1. Start by lying on your stomach on the floor, with your forehead and the top of your feet facing the ground or yoga mat.
  2. Try to keep your legs close together. 
  3. Place your palms flat on the ground underneath both sides of your chest. Fingers should be pointing forward.
  4. Keep your elbows pointing inwards towards your sides.
  5. Breathe in and gently push up, straightening your elbows as you lift up, allowing your eyes to try and look at the ceiling. Keep your belly button and hips pressed to the floor.
  6. Focus on lifting your chest toward the sky.
  7. Breathe out deeply as you release back towards the ground.


What Muscles Does Cobra Pose Work?


The Cobra pose is great for releasing tension in several places of your body and touches muscles such as:

  • Pectoral muscles. Consisting of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor (chest) these muscles help you move your shoulders and upper body.
  • Pyramidalis. A small, triangle-shaped muscle in your lower pelvis below your abdominals that help maintain proper internal pressure.
  • Rectus abdominis. These are basically your “Abs.” They stretch vertically from your ribs to the front of your pelvis to help keep your organs in place.
  • Transversus abdominis. Pair of abdominal muscles underneath your internal obliques that stabilize your core and spine.
  • External obliques. Pair of muscles on either side of your torso that allows you to twist your body from side to side.
  • Internal obliques. These muscles run underneath the external obliques and also work to allow you to twist your body.
  • Trapezius muscles. Large diamond-shaped muscles form from the base of your neck across your shoulders to the middle of your back. They help with movement like raising your arms and maintaining good posture.
  • Erector spinae. These muscles run the length of your spine and help with breathing, proper posture, back stabilization, and moving your body.
  • Hip Flexors. A group of muscles in front of the hip. They help you move and flex your leg and knee up towards your body.


cobra pose


The Physical Benefits of Cobra Pose


The Cobra pose is one of my favorite backbends that can help stretch and strengthen the muscles of the back, chest, hips, and abdomen. As you lift your body off the ground, you senselessly engage your spinal muscles, which can help improve posture and reduce back pain. This stretch also opens up your chest muscles, allowing you the ability to take deeper breaths that improve your lung capacity.


Practicing Cobra pose can also boost your digestive system and help to alleviate constipation. While you’re in a Cobra, the abdominal muscles (Abs) compress, leading to increased blood flow to the digestive tract.


Cobra pose offers many health benefits. Aside from opening the chest and strengthening the back, it can also:

  • Reduces back pain
  • Improves circulation
  • Expands lung capacity
  • Opens the shoulder blades, neck, throat, and collarbones  
  • Improves posture and flexibility
  • Improves digestion
  • Massages and regulates the adrenal and thyroid glands
  • Reduces stress
  • May improve sleep quality, fatigue, and symptoms of mild depression


The Mental Benefits of Cobra Pose


A Cobra pose is not only beneficial for our physical body, but it can also be of great service to our mental health. A number of research show the ability of cobra pose to reduce stress and anxiety while reducing tension in the body.


One study found significant improvement in symptoms in people experiencing mild to moderate depression after an 8-week yoga program that included regularly practicing Cobra Pose twice a week.


While you’re in Cobra, focus on your breath and try to let your mind be singular. Try to limit the number of things you’re actively thinking about and draw all your attention to your inhale and exhale. This can help quiet the mind and reduce racing thoughts.


Overall, research indicates that a maintained practice of yoga-derived movements like Cobra can contribute to improvements in depressive symptoms.


Cobra Pose


The Science Behind Cobra Pose


From a scientific perspective, the Cobra pose can have a significant impact on the nervous system. The action of lifting your chest off the ground triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and rest.


This is a practical layout of how it can help to reduce stress.


Cobra pose helps to stimulate the adrenal glands, which are tasked with producing vital hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. By stimulating these glands, you can help your body reduce stress.


Having the right levels of cortisol in your body is essential for adequate health. And producing too much or too little can cause various health issues.


Cobra pose is also considered a form of backbend which is anecdotally believed to be an energizing posture. Multiple studies have discovered improvements in sleep quality after performing Cobra Pose daily.




The Cobra pose is a powerful yoga pose that can have numerous physical and mental benefits. It is an easy exercise to implement in your daily routine.

Some key benefits include; improved digestion, reduced lower back pain, decreased stress levels, and even alleviated symptoms of depression and anxiety.

For additional guidance on the best mobility exercises that can ease tension in your lower back and hips, fill this page out.










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No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other licensed clinicians.

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