Find confidence and poise in Sphinx Pose, a variation of Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose, in order to stretch and strengthen the spine. Sphinx Pose encourages opening in the chest and shoulders and helps to relieve stress. Often in yoga postures, we take on the characteristics of the postures. In this particular pose, we may feel more self-assured and tenacious as we lift and broaden the chest, bringing more suppleness to the spine.
On an inhale breath, lift the chest off of the ground. Draw the shoulders down the back and away from the ears. Lift the chest upwards, as if there was a string gently pulling the chest upwards, towards the ceiling. Again, bring attention to the low-belly, and draw it in towards the spine to encourage support for the low-back. Energetically, draw the palms and forearms down and back towards the feet and notice how the chest, neck and head appear to grow longer. Stay here and breathe, for 3 to 5 full rounds of breath, inhales and exhales.
Work to create a rhythm with the breath and notice how the body begins to soften and relax into the pose over time. Notice any tension that arises in the body, particularly in the neck, chest, shoulders and spine. Allow yourself permission to let-go of tension and tightness in the body. Notice the areas that need to be actively working in the posture, and notice where you can soften and relax to create more balance in the pose.
To come out of the pose: Gently lower the chest back down to the ground. Allow the palms to come to the sides of the body. Lower the left ear to the ground and take a moment to completely relax the body and notice how the breath begins to calm. Visualize the exhale breath moving into the spine in order to help it relax. Option to take one more round of Sphinx. If you do take one more round, when coming out of the posture, drop the opposite ear down to the ground, to encourage balance in the body.
In Sphinx Pose and spine strengtheners in general, we give one hundred percent effort and then put the same amount of mindful energy into surrendering and relaxing after the posture. It is when we can transfer this same philosophy into our daily lives that we can begin to build a better balance of work and relaxation.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If
a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, In Rhythms Yoga, Clairemont, S.D.