Snake Pose (Sarpasana), not to be confused with Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), is an accessible pose for most bodies. The word Sarpasana is derived from Sanskrit word Sarpa, meaning snake, and Asana meaning position. This Yogasana is considered as a basic posture before moving on to more complex positions.
It’s a popular and beneficial pose that you’ll find in most styles of yoga classes as a variation or prep pose for Cobra and other big backbends. Make sure to warm up a bit before this pose with a few Sun Salutations, and some rounds of Cat and Cow or Downward Facing Dog.
Benefits of Snake Pose
Why is Sarpasana so pervasive in the different types of yoga? Because of its accessibility and its health benefits. It opens the chest and shoulders to stimulate the heart and lungs. It improves your ability to breathe deeply and fully, while relieving compression in the diaphragm. It eliminates constipation, massages and stimulates the internal organs, and boosts the immune system by stimulating the thymus gland. It tones the bum and legs, and strengthens the muscles in the back.
Steer clear of this pose if you have an ulcer, are pregnant, recent back injuries, a hernia, or had any type of recent wrist, rib, or elbow injury. If you’ve recently given birth and have abdominal separation, this pose will aggravate it, so make sure you give yourself ample time to heal and the abdominals to reconnect before attempting this pose. Get the all clear from your doctor or midwife! Those that suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome also are at risk of further injury in this pose.
How to Do Snake Pose (Sarpasana)
- Lay down on your belly (in what’s called prone position) with your forehead flat to the mat.
- Clasp your hands together behind you, just above your tailbone.
- Point your toes and press the feet and heels together. Subtly take the inner thighs towards the sky. Lift your kneecaps to engage your quad muscles. Create one long, tight “tail” behind you.
- Press the tops of the feet down into the mat.
- Take a deep inhale and lift your head, chest, shoulders, and abdomen off the mat.
- Contract the back muscles and energetically send your clasped knuckles towards your feet.
- Simultaneously, push the energy through your sternum (or breastbone) forward to fully open the chest.
- Release your shoulders down your back, away from your ears.
- Hold for 8 breaths, or as long as feels comfortable.
- Slowly lower vertebra by vertebra.
Inhale deeply and slowly prior to raising, retain the breath while raising and exhale while lowering. Child’s Pose is a good one to follow up with to relax the neck and stretch the back completely.
Snake Pose for Beginners
This pose is very easy to practice and regularly practicing this along with the other back bending pose will cure you of back pains. This pose strengthens your back and stretches the shoulders, there fore good for maintaining a good body posture.
- Place a folded blanket under the hips or place a rolled blanket under the rib cage.
- Use a yoga strap between the hands.
Snake Pose for Advanced
Snake Pose is often followed by Cobra, Locust Pose (Salabhasana), or Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) to work deeper into the back and open the chest completely. Any of those are great options to follow it up with.
- The next step involves locking of your hands and putting them on your buttocks while pulling your chin slightly upwards. Keep on breathing slowly by raising your shoulders. This stage should last for minimum 30 seconds.
Peace with Deep Breath
Feel peaceful, opened and pure. With more air flowing through your body as your chest opens up you mind should feel clear. Snake posture is beneficial for improving breathing and one’s breathing capacity. Remain aware of your breathing during the practice.