Julie MacAdam

Cobra pose requires that I engage in order to expand around my heart; a parallel to my life. As I am present with the freshness of each moment and aware, I realize how much I can let go by without noticing or appreciating. It is similar in cobra pose: it seems easy to forget to actively involve the lower half of my body but that is exactly what is needed to keep me strong. That is where I lift from. The stable foundation supports becoming and letting go. When my foundation is well secured I emerge new and reveal my heart. When I live life from my heart it takes on a different meaning and perspective.

In the pose there is a certain amount of pressure put on me that allows for the rising. Pressure, so often, has negative correlations. Peer pressure, pressure on myself, pressuring others, too much pressure I think I might burst. In my mind it is tied up in doing things that I didn’t want to do or trying to get others to do what they do not want to do. It relates to feelings of overwhelm and too much to handle. The cobra evokes a different kind of pressure, though, and helps me in discovering a new way to look at pressure in general.
Life isn’t some easy thing; sometimes there are easeful moments, but then other times the pressures on and I need to learn the lessons from cobra: rise, expand, shed, let go. If I want to shed my hardened skin, release my limitations, outdated stories, narratives, and beliefs…if I want to grow and upgrade myself…if I want to be alive, vulnerable and authentic, then my efforts are needed to face the challenges. Cobra helps me in meeting the challenges of my life straight on, from a heart centered place, where I know my ground.

There are shadows in life, and in all of us. Aspects of the personality that I am not particularly pleased with or necessarily want others to see or to see in others. Those exact aspects are what were developed, just as the snake skin, to protect me and keep me safe. They serve a purpose, and are a helpmeet. There may too come a time when they are no longer needed and I can make that choice with awareness and discrimination. To keep things in perspective: there would be no shadows if it were not for the sun.

All of these partrs of myself that at times I want to omit out of my life are actually a part of being human and on the ground. I don’t have to punish myself for being selfish, jealous, insecure…for being righteously indignant, prideful, emotional. I can rather tend to my heart and understand myself. Where did these qualities come from? What is tender and vulnerable under the thickened layers of skin? I can try my best to keep a straight head on my shoulders seeing the larger picture and not just the parts. Instead of puffing up and threatening, or coiling in on myself, I can be what I am, just how I am. We’ve all got a shadow, and we are the Light of the sun.

Warm-ups Start by warming up the spine, particularly the low back for Cobra pose. Downward dog, moving bridge pose and cat stretches are good for the whole spine. childs pose, or knees to chest can help warm up the low back. To prepare the heart and shoulders hare pose can be helpful or some shoulders and neck rolls.
Cool-Downs After cobra pose either lying childs or childs pose can support the opposite motion of the low back. Sitting forward fold or tortoise pose can also do this.
Alignment To protect the lower back be sure to firm the lower half of the body. Instead of lifting straight up with the side first come forward and then rise, keeping the spinal column long.
Come to lye on your belly with the head turned towards one side, take a few breathes. Turn the head towards the other side take a few breathes.
Feel into the lower abdomen and pelvis.
Bring either the forehead or chin to the mat. Explore both options and do what feels best for your body.
Bring the hands down by the side of the hips palm facing down. The hands can also be placed underneath the shoulders with elbows bent. If you do this make sure that you are using the strength from your legs and back rather then pressing into the hands.
Engage the legs, press the thighs into the floor and firm the buttocks.
Press the pelvis into the floor and elongate the spine forward and up lifting the front of the body off of the floor.
Draw the shoulder blades back towards each other and the hands down towards the feet to expand around the heart. If your hands are under the shoulders still draw the shoulder blades together to open the front of the body.
Stay in as long as feels comfortable for you.
To come out, gently lower down, relax the entire body, and turn the head towards one side and then the other.
While in the cobra explore one of the following questions:
What makes me coil in on myself and protect?
What am I ready to shed and let go of?
When do I disengage with my life and what does it take to stay engaged?
What does pressure have to teach me in my life and how can it help me grow?