This posture helps to strengthen the spine and abdomen, open the chest, shoulders and lungs. It also helps to firm the buttocks, stimulates abdominal organs, helps to reduce stress and fatigue as well as opens the heart and lungs. The traditional yoga text considers this posture to increase body heat, destroy diseases, and awaken kundalini.
Start lying flat on the floor, stretch your legs back with the top of the feet touching the floor. Place your hands on the floor below the shoulders with the arms placed closed to the torso. Press the top of the feet, thighs and pubis firmly into the floor.
Then breathe in and straighten the arms lifting the chest off the floor. Keep the buttocks firm and the tailbone towards the pubis, lift the pubis toward the navel. The shoulder blades are placed firm against the back and the side ribs are placed forward, keep the shoulders open.
Lift through the top of the sternum without pushing the front ribs forward, as it increases the strain on the lower back. Distribute the back bend evenly through the whole spine. Hold this position for about 30 seconds breathing normally. To come out lower the arms down and rest in the child pose for a few seconds.
The cobra pose should be followed by the locust pose to counterbalance the back bend.
Marcia has been practising yoga for over 20 years and has specialised in the Hatha and Ashtanga schools of yoga, although has also enjoyed learning other branches such as Iyengar. As well as yoga she practices meditation, and plays a wide range of sports, including badminton, cricket, cycling, and walking.