Hubby asked me the other day if I’d help him work on his Cobra (Bhujaṅgāsana). We’ve yet to do this, but even the request has blown me away. He has a couple nerve issues at the moment and triggers pain really easily. For this reason I’m always wary of helping him with his practice and he mostly likes to be left well alone. I think he crunches his lower back too much in any backbend but I don’t know nearly enough to know the limits of what I could reasonably advise. And he’s scared. And I do know that being scared and doing good yoga (by any definition of ‘good’) is not an easy combination!
Since he asked me I’ve been really trying to feel my way more consciously into my own Bhujaṅgāsana. The only way I can offer him any help is through my own experiences. So what actions are there in this pose? How would I describe them for him?
I think in my own practice I am beginning to isolate the lower back and can stop at the moment when I’m beyond pulling with the upper back muscles and the lower back or arms would start to take the work. So I reckon this is where he should stop. I can try to describe that to him and I wonder if I will see it in action when I watch his body moving. And what about the other stuff I can feel — what my feet are doing, abdominals engaged, nestling the hips into the ground, shoulder blades working back and down… Some of this is familiar from my teacher’s cues in class, but some I might have made up myself, so how will I know if it’s good also for him when I’m not sure if it’s ‘right’?
As much as any of this anatomical stuff, I reckon also that he needs some plain reassurance that the lowest, babiest of all cobras is good enough. He practices in a rather showy class and I think he feels in a minority of older, stiffer bodies coaxing themselves gently into āsanas rather than the younger, bendier types where caution seems thrown to the winds!
We’ll see how it goes when we get together on the mat. I want to honour his trust with the best I can offer.
image source: http://media.yogaanatomy.net/images/bhujangasana.jpg