Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Understanding The Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose!

The name Tiryaka Bhujangasana is derived from Sanskrit where “Tiryaka” means “Diagonal”, “Bhujang” means “Serpent” and “Asana” is “Pose” or “Posture”.

The English name of Tiryaka Bhujangasana is The Twisting Cobra Pose. It is called so because the gaze is directed over the shoulder diagonally across the back of the body to the opposite heel while practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose.

The direction of the gaze also forms two sides of a triangle, while the width between the shoulders forms the base or third side.

The Twisting Cobra Pose when performed as part of the shankhaprakshalana series make sure that you exhale when twisting to either side.

It is a backward bending asana and should be a very integral part of daily yoga practice. It is a very useful asana in removing pain and stiffness from the back, neck and abdomen.

According to yogic literature, Bhujanga Asana heals the body of disease and awakens Kundalini, the divine cosmic energy that promotes self-realization.

Bhujangasana helps alleviate stress and anxiety if practiced regularly, carefully and correctly. Tiryaka Bhujangasana or twisting Cobra Pose is good for correcting postural defects of the upper spine.

Tiryaka Bjujangasasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose!

How To Do Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose

To get into Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra pose, one must get into Bhujangasana or The Cobra Pose first.

Steps to get into Bhujangasana or The Cobra Pose

  • To practice Bhujangasana, lie prone on the floor or the yoga mat i.e. on your stomach with the top of your feet and chin resting on the floor.
  • Legs should be kept close together with the heels and feet lightly touching each other.
  • Place your palms facing downwards i.e., facing ground and below the shoulders with the fingers of your hand outwards i.e. other side of the body.
  • While practicing Bhujangasana, the elbows should be kept parallel to each other and close to the body.
  • While inhaling deeply, gently raise your head, chest, and abdomen up while keeping the navel and pelvis touching the floor.
  • Take your shoulders back and down in such a way that the head is tilted backwards and the chest is opened forward while practicing Bhujangasana.
  • Focus your gaze forward or upwards depending upon the flexibility of your neck and spine or till where you are able to bend backwards.
  • Raise your body upwards till your arms become straight on the ground.
  • Keep pressing the ground with your pelvis. Also, make sure that you are not putting a lot of tension in your arms.
  • At a point where you are comfortable, hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Straighten your to a point where you are comfortable. Do not overstretch or exert yourself.
  • While exhaling, gently take your body downwards to rest on the floor.
  • Relax with your hand stretched outwards and chin touching the floor.

Steps to do Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose

  • To get into Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose, assume the final position of Bhujangasana or The Cobra Pose with the legs separated about half a meter.
  • The toes should be tucked under and the heels raised, so that the foot rests on the ball of the foot while getting into this pose.
  • While practicing The Twisting Cobra Pose, the head should be facing forward instead of bending backward as in Bhujangasana or The Cobra Pose.
  • Twist the head and upper portion of the trunk, and look over the left shoulder while practicing this pose
  • Gaze at the heel of the right foot while practicing this pose.
  • In the final Tiryaka Bhujangasana, the arms remain straight or slightly bent as the shoulders and trunk is twisted.
  • Try to feel a diagonal stretch of the abdomen while practicing The Twisting Cobra Pose.
  • Relax the back and keep the navel as close to the floor as possible while practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana or the Twisting Cobra Pose.
  • Stay in the final Twisting Cobra Pose for a few seconds.
  • Face forward again and repeat the twist on the other side without lowering the trunk.
  • To release Tiryaka Bhujangasana, return to the centre and lower the body to the floor.
  • This is one round of this pose.
  • Beginners should try to stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes or until your legs and feet start feeling discomfort.
  • Advanced practitioners should stay in Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose for 15-20 minutes or for as long as you can.
  • Relax for a few seconds and once you feel alright and the tension in legs goes, you can get back in this pose.
  • You can practice 3 to 4 rounds of The Twisting Cobra Pose from both the sides.

Breathing Pattern To Be Followed While Practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose

  • Inhale deeply while raising the trunk from the floor to get in Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose
  • Maintain a constant breath while you are in The Twisting Cobra Pose. Keep inhaling and exhaling deeply while being in this pose. Practice until the flow of breath in both nostrils becomes equalized. Alternatively, advanced practitioners can retain their breath while staying in the final pose.
  • Exhale deeply once or twice after releasing Tiryaka Bhujangasana.

Preparatory And Follow Up Poses To Be Practiced With Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose

Preparatory Poses: The various preparatory poses to be practiced before Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose are Sarvangasana or The Shoulder pose, Setu Bandhasana or The Bridge Pose and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Upward facing dog Pose.

Follow Up Poses: The various follow-up poses or Pranayamas to be practiced after Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose are Makrasana or The Crocodile Pose, Dhanurasana or The Bow Pose and other backward bending asanas.

Awareness While Practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose

Physical Awareness - The Physical Awareness while practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose should be on the back, abdomen or breathing process and the intestines.

Spiritual Awareness – The Spiritual Awareness while practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose should be on Swadhisthana Chakra or The Sacral chakra which desire, pleasure, sexuality and procreation. The primary energetic focus in The Twisting Cobra Pose is on Swadhisthana Chakra or The Sacral chakra. This asana helps in opening and balancing of the sacral chakra. The key to opening the second chakra is to maintain balance when it comes to pleasurable, worldly things.

Benefits Of Practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose

  • One of the main benefits of practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose is that it helps in strengthening the Digestive system as it regulation practice helps in relieving constipation and other stomach disorders. While practicing this pose the blood flow is obstructed to the lower part of the body and the blood flow is increased in the stomach and pelvic area which promotes the bowel movement and hence improves digestion.
  • Regular practice of The Twisting Cobra Pose helps in getting rid of Acidity.
  • Tiryaka Bhujangasana practice aids liver function.
  • It helps ease the labor pains and reduce the menstrual cramps.
  • This asana helps in strengthening the lower back and pelvic area thereby reducing problems of the lower back and spine like Sciatica.
  • Regular practice of The Twisting Cobra Pose calms the mind, relaxes the nervous system and the whole body. It is one of best meditative asanas as well.
  • Reduction in belly fat will be noticed with regular practice of Tiryaka Bhujangasana.
  • It strengthens the reproductive organs as well.
  • It is also considered a magical pose for people suffering from Arthritis as it helps in relieving the pain.
  • The Twisting Cobra Pose helps in the treatment of Urinary problems as well.
  • Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose helps in increasing flexibility during difficult situations.
  • It helps in balancing the mind, increases the power of concentration, and induces physical and mental relaxation quickly. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise with regular practice of Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose
  • It refreshes and rejuvenates you and also relieves you of stress and mild depression.
  • It is especially useful when one or both of your nostrils are blocked. If only one nostril is blocked, or partially blocked, place the hand of that side underneath the opposite armpit. Maintain the pressure for a minute or two while practicing The Twisting Cobra Pose.
  • Tiryaka Bhujangasana is good for correcting postural defects of the upper spine.

Precautions And Contraindications While Practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose

Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose is a very easy and safe asana to practice. However, there are a few contraindications while practicing this pose.

  • For people who have had any knee injuries, ankle injuries or have undergone any knee surgeries recently should not practice The Twisting Cobra Pose.
  • Pregnant females should keep their knees and legs away from each other while practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana to prevent putting excess pressure on the abdomen.
  • People suffering from hernia and intestinal ulcers or any ailments related to the intestines should practice this pose under the guidance of a trained yoga instructor.
  • People who have any spinal injuries like slip disc and any problems associated with the spinal column should not practice Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose.
  • You can use cushions to make yourself comfortable while practicing this pose.
  • Do not practice The Twisting Cobra Pose if you do not feel comfortable during the practice.
  • Do not overdo this pose if you feel pain in your body.
  • Start the practice mildly and then increase the repetitions as per your capacity.
  • If you have any doubts about your condition, consult a physician before practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose and always practice asana under the supervision of a trained yoga expert.
  • Do not overexert yourself while practicing The Twisting Cobra Pose. Do not push yourself beyond the limits. Go only as far as your body allows.

Tips While Practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana Or The Twisting Cobra Pose

  • Always perform Yogasanas in the range of your abilities and limitations. Go as far as your body allows. Do not overexert yourself while practicing.
  • While practicing initially, you might feel a stinging pain in your feet and legs. But do not give up. Sit for at least 2 minutes in Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose if you are a beginner. It is possible to sit for as long as thirty minutes to sit in this pose with regular practice.
  • Though most of the yogasanas are supposed to be done empty stomach the best time to practice Tiryaka Bhujangasana is after your meals as it promotes digestion. However, it can be practiced at any time of the day.
  • If you feel excessive pain while practicing The Twisting Cobra Pose, leave the pose and stretch the legs on the yoga mat or on the floor.
  • For maximum benefits, the breath should be kept deep and long. Many people tend to breathe faster while practicing this asana which might hinder calming the mind and relaxing the body.
  • The body should not be tensed while bending the legs. Instead, the body should be loosened to promote relaxation while practicing Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose.
  • The legs should be engaged actively in this pose. Make sure you press your legs as deeply in to the floor or yoga mat as you can as this will allow you to lift your chest higher in Tiryaka Bhujangasana.
  • Make sure that you do not stiffen your back and try to raise your trunk off the ground while getting in the final pose. To promote greater movement of the trunk, always allow your body to relax so that it kind of sags towards the ground when in final Tiryaka Bhujangasana or The Twisting Cobra Pose.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: November 15, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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