Often billed as the baby of the back bends, as a good place to start, as ideal for the not-so-flexible student, Sphinx Pose is often underestimated. Like its namesake, there is more to it than first meets the eye. Physically, this asana is great for opening the chest and shoulders, for stretching the abdominal muscles and toning the digestive organs, and for strengthening the spine, legs and bum. But it also works on a much deeper, energetic level ~ invigorating, reviving and opening our heart to others and ourself.
It seems apt that the colour associated with anahata chakra (heart chakra) is green, the colour of spring. What nicer way to wake up our bodies and our hearts after this grotty winter than stretching up gently towards the sun and the prospect of new beginnings.
HOW TO DO SALAMBHA BHUJANGASANA (Supported Cobra Pose)
1. Lie on your stomach, feet at hip width, elbows under shoulders, forearms parallel, middle fingers straight forward. For now, keep your head hanging down.
2. Press the tops of your feet into the floor, engaging your knee and thigh muscles and allowing your outer thighs to slightly roll outwards. This will create width across the lower back. Engage the glutes without clenching.
3. As you actively reach through your toes, engage your mula bandha and think about drawing your pubis up while lengthening the tailbone down. Feel the space between your hip points dome away from the floor. It's subtle but it's there!
4. Inhale, press evenly into your hands and forearms to start rising up through the spine. Take your time, You want to move the spine in sequence so try to avoid the temptation to lift the head too soon. Keeping the mula bandha and abdomen engaged, lift up and out through the ribs and then draw the shoulders gently back. You want to feel the shoulder blades settling into your back and the collar bones opening.
5. Finally lift the head and draw the chin back slightly, Soften your gaze towards your third eye (ajna chakra) between your eyebrows.
6. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths continuing to lift through your heart before releasing down into your mat. Turn your head to one side breathing softly. Repeat one or two times more.
Avoid this pose if you have acute or chronic injury to the back, shoulders or arms, have had recent abdominal surgery, or if you are pregnant ~ you can always practise this pose standing against a wall so you don't squish your baby!
Is this a favourite pose of yours? Share why below!