Help lower back pain through this gentle stretch, with many modifications available.

Half Cobra Pose Step by Step Guide

Step 1

Lie down with your belly on your floor, your forehead on your arms, and your legs stretched back.

Lift your forehead away from from the floor and prop yourself up on your elbows.

Step 2

Push your body weight onto the floor using your toes and keep your thighs and pelvic area engaged facing the mat.

Step 3

Take a deep breath and use your arms to lift your chest away from the floor.

Make sure you do not lift your body so high that your pelvic area is no longer touching the floor.

Step 4

Push your tailbone toward the ground and lift your pelvic area a bit. Next, engage your backside and bring your legs closer together, narrowing the hip points.

Step 5

Roll the shoulder blades back and forward until they are against your back, and bring the sides of your torso forward.

Open your chest by lifting the sternum, but avoid leaning forward with your chest. Make sure you evenly distribute the pressure created by the backbend all over your back.

Step 6

Hold the pose anywhere from 15 seconds to 40 seconds using a gentle breathing technique.

When you are done, release back onto the mat with an exhalation.

Half Cobra Pose Common Mistakes

The half cobra pose is a gentle yet effective backbend for Yoga practitioners who do not want to go into a deep backbend and risk injuries.

While the half cobra pose may seem easy to perform at first, it does have some rules that you need to respect in order to get the most out of it.

Keeping the Backside Tensed

While it is true that your buttocks should be engaged, if you put too much pressure on them, the backbend is going to be more intense, especially in the lower back area.

This could be quite dangerous, especially if you are using the half cobra pose for therapeutic reasons (back stiffness, back pain), as it applies too much pressure on your spine.

To fix this, roll your inner thighs to release the tension in your buttocks.

Staring at the Floor

While it may not seem to be an important element of the pose, the position of your head can modify the position of your back as well.

When you gaze at the floor, your back is not properly stretched because it follows the position of your neck and head.

To fix this, stretch your neck a little and turn your gaze upward.

Arms Not Underneath Shoulders

When your arms are not positioned directly under your shoulders, the weight of your torso will be harder to sustain.

When your elbows are positioned in front of your torso, the pressure on your arms will decrease, but the pressure on your back will be increased.

On the flip side, when the elbows are positioned in the back, most of your body weight will be held up by your arms.

Beginner’s Tip

Before you start your Yoga practice, warm up your back by bending backward, forward, and on the side.

Also, make sure you do not do any backbends after you had an intense back workout or after carrying heavy weights.

Half Cobra pose

Half Cobra Variations

The half cobra pose can be both deepened and made easier with the right variations. Read on to find out more about your options.

Use a Towel

Many students complain at times that the mat is not enough to protect their body from the hard floor.

Since your entire body is on the floor and you push with your hips and thighs towards the floor, you may feel some discomfort.

To fix this, place a thick towel beneath your legs and torso.

Raise One Leg Up

In this variation, instead of keeping both legs close to each other, you will lift one leg 10 inches away from the floor.

This distance is ideal to encourage the burn throughout your leg muscles. To maximize this variation, make sure your leg is completely straight and all your muscles are engaged.

Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.

Hold One Arm Forward

Instead of keeping your arms on the floor, anchoring the torso, raise one hand forward at shoulder-level with your fingers spread.

This variation is perfect for Yoga practitioners who have a have experience with asanas that require both balance and strength.

Benefits of Half Cobra Pose

There are many benefits to this simple backbend pose that encourage blood flow, a healthier back, and a more flexible body.

The most obvious benefits are the ones linked to your back and chest. The half cobra pose is one of the best chest openers and lower back healing poses.

But there are other secondary benefits that come with it as well, such an anxiety relief, increased flexibility, better digestion, stronger shoulders, and an improvement in a specific type of depression.

Increased Flexibility and Body Awareness

Many asanas require both attention to detail and flexibility. The half cobra pose helps with both.

If you are a beginner and do not have much body awareness, and your synchronization is not as good either, this beginner pose will help you out.

The half cobra pose uses each muscle, but it is not as intricate as other asanas. This makes it perfect for someone who is just getting started.

The gentle backbend also improves your flexibility without putting too much pressure on your lower back and shoulders, which is excellent if you suffer from stiffness.

Opens the Chest and Relieves Tension in the Shoulders

The half cobra pose forces your chest to come forward and your shoulders to relieve all the tension gathered throughout the day.

If you are experiencing pain and tension in your shoulders, practicing a pose that works as a tension reliever will help relax the muscles of your upper back and neck.

Your chest will benefit as well, especially if you have a sedentary job.

Lengthens the Spine and Reduces Lower Back Pain

If work a desk job, you know very well that as time passes your posture is changing, and not for the better.

The half cobra pose helps bring some relief to your spine by lengthening it, a process that rarely happens naturally during the day.

This asana also helps strengthen the muscles in your lower back area, which can relieve or make pain disappear altogether.

Reduces Mild Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety go hand in hand, and the half cobra pose can help with both.

This asana helps by opening your heart chakra. allowing you to become more forgiving towards yourself and others around you.

When paired with meditation, the half cobra pose can help you control negative thoughts and live a happier life.

Improves Digestion

By placing your lower belly on the mat, you apply pressure on your digestive system This stimulates digestion.

If you are suffering from bile issues, constipation, or you just have slow digestion, a pose that impacts the lower body area can help.

Improves Focus

The half cobra pose encourages meditation and controlled gentle breathing. It also helps you look upward, away from the distractions of the world.

By giving yourself a break from these distractions, you can achieve more by doing less.

When paired with meditation, this pose can also help you stay motivated and block the thoughts that encourage you to procrastinate.

The Half Cobra Pose and the Heart Chakra

The half cobra pose can help you stimulate the heart chakra, an energetic point that deals with your love for yourself and others.

But the heart chakra not only deals with self-esteem and empathy for others but also compassionate decisions, relationships, and your ability to grieve and move forward.

There are a number of signs that indicated that the half cobra pose can benefit you when it comes to your emotional health.

If you are feeling disconnected from others, or you are often told that you are cold and calculated, it could be a sign of weak heart chakra.

Having issues in your love life or with your family can also mean that your heart chakra needs a boost.

The ability to cope with the loss of a loved one is the sign of a strong heart chakra, but if you are feeling trapped in the memories of a deceased relative, friend, or lover, the half cobra pose will definitely benefit you.

On the flip side, if you are too forgiving towards others and you love others without being aware of their flaws you might have an overly active heart chakra.

Arrogance can also be a sign of an overly active heart chakra, along with co-dependency and the the continuous search for validation.


The half cobra pose is not recommended for pregnant women or sufferers of Carpal Tunnel syndrome, osteoporosis, and lower back injuries.

To get the most out of the half cobra pose, avoid eating at least one hour before your Yoga practice.

Did you benefit from this article? Did I miss anything? Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated – please post in the comments and I will personally respond!

Marcus Stone

Marcus Stone

Soon after graduating college with a degree in Journalism, Marcus decided to pursue his love for yoga and traveled to Rishikesh, India to complete his RYS 500 yoga teacher training. Marcus wants people to know that yoga is for everyone – no matter your race, gender, age, or physical ability. >> Read More
Marcus Stone

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