Raja Bhujangasana

Definition - What does Raja Bhujangasana mean?

Raja bhujangasana is an advanced variation of the backbend, bhujangasana. It is practiced in order to open the heart space and is said to help cultivate feelings of kindness, as well as invigorating the body with more energy and alertness. Its name comes from the Sanskrit, raja, which means “king”; bhujanga, which means “snake" or “serpent”; and asana, which means "posture" or "seat.” It is called this because it is said to resemble the shape of a cobra in position ready to attack.

Raja bhujangasana may also be known by its English name of king cobra pose.

Raja Bhujangasana

Yogapedia explains Raja Bhujangasana

Traditionally, the power of raja bhujangasana as an asana is attributed to the fact it incorporates all four elements of yogic philosophy. These are:

  1. Earth as the hips stabilize into the ground.
  2. Water as the fluidity of movement of the upper body washes away tension.
  3. Air as the intercostal muscles of the ribs stretch and the breathing capacity increases.
  4. Fire as the expanded breath stokes the fire in the navel to burn away toxins.

Raja bhujangasana is also thought to stimulate the adrenal glands, which explains its invigorating effect. Some recommend that this is balanced out by calming the body and mind with a pose such as balasana or adho mukha svanasana afterwards.

In Indian mythology, the king cobra is known for its ability to glide forward with its upper section of its body lifted. This sense of dynamism and power can be emulated in the pose.

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