Sphinx pose is the perfect yoga pose to combat a hunched back. If you feel like you’re starting to have stooped shoulders, try incorporating this pose in a daily routine and feel the difference! By engaging your core and opening your thoracic spine, your spine should easily go back to a more neutral position.
Those of you who may have read some of my other articles on yoga poses know that I like to identify the Sanskrit and English names of the pose. That proved to be quite a challenge with this pose. Most of my books simply call it Sphinx pose, but in Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar calls it Salamba Bhujangasana, so that’s what we’ll go with for our Sanskrit name.
Salamba frequently translates to supported. Bhujangasana is the Sanskrit name for Cobra pose. Put them together, and we have a supported cobra pose, or Sphinx pose.
- We will use ujjayi breathing.
- Begin on your stomach with arms reaching straight in front of you and your legs hip-width apart.
- Make sure that your legs are parallel. Feel your knee caps and your big toe toenails connect to the mat.
- Draw your low belly toward your spine and straighten your legs. This will allow the big toe toenails to press into the mat. Also, your knee caps may lift as your legs straighten.
- Inhale and lift your head and chest.
- Bend your arms and place your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Your forearms should be parallel to each other, pressing firmly into the mat. Spread your fingers wide.
- As you breathe, keep your abdominal engagement. This will prevent you from injuring your low back.
- Isometrically draw your elbows toward your hips. This feeling of muscular energy will help you broaden your collarbones, slide your shoulders away from your ears, and put your scapulas in the correct position on your back.
- By setting yourself up with this correct alignment, you can now focus on softening and letting your heart rotate forward. This rotation helps to open the upper part of the back that often gets rounded with working at a desk or using personal electronic devices.
- Hold here for 5 or more breaths, encouraging yourself to let your heart soften on each exhale.
- To come out of the pose, allow your hands to fold in toward the center and stack on top of each other. Lower your head to rest on your hands. Take several breaths here.
- In your personal practice, you may want to do this pose two or three times.
Sphinx Pose Video
Since I recently broke my neck, I invited my friend and yoga mentor, Steph Abbott, to instruct. You will notice that she and I explain this pose in different ways. Maybe something I have written will resonate with you, and maybe something she says will resonate with you. This is a perfect example of why it’s important to try different teachers to further your yoga practice.
So, for the visual learners, here’s Steph teaching Sphinx pose. (Be sure to find her on Facebook at Steph Abbott, LLC. Her website, stephabbott.com, is currently under construction, but it’s coming soon!)
Sphinx pose is great for opening the upper spine, but why else do you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments below.
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