LEAH BRACKNELL YOGA

Cobra

The Secret Life of ASANA COBRA/BHUJANGASANA

This is traditionally the time of year when we make our New Year’s resolutions and set our intentions to make positive changes in our lives. We seek new beginnings, a fresh start:

I am going to lose weight.
I am going to take more exercise.
I am going to quit smoking, drinking, and texting and do something more creative and constructive.
I am going to write a novel, clear out my clutter, be nicer to everyone, change my job.
 
The list is endless. The passing of the old year gives us permission and inspiration to perform some “spring cleaning” on ourselves and in our lives. We all seek change. Inner and outer transformation in order to lead happier, healthier more fulfilled lives. To liberate ourselves from the bondage of negative elements.
Yet, change is often difficult and painful, so all too often we fail or give up. For true transformation requires commitment, determination and will power supported by action and self belief. It can lead to renewed energy, confidence, and liberation.

Bhujangasana - the Cobra is the ultimate symbol of transformation: renewal, regeneration and re-birth .The shedding of the old skin, no longer required, represents new beginnings. Now is the perfect time to practice this posture to compliment and reinforce our New Year resolutions.

In our practice of this posture we can embrace the energy of the cobra to commit to our own desire to make positive changes in our life. To cast off old habits and patterns of behaviour that no longer serve a purpose or have a negative or detrimental impact on our well being.

The Cobra is a creature at once exciting and dangerous. It is revered for its wisdom yet can also inspire fear and loathing. Associated with Shiva and Vishnu in Hindu mythology, it is blamed in the Bible for the Temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden. In the Chinese zodiac a person born in the year of the Snake may be gentle and calm, yet slothful and vain. A snake can dance, slither, bite and protect. What does a snake mean to you?
 It is a potent sexual symbol, and its forked tongue symbolises hypocrisy and lies, yet brings to mind satya-truthfulness.
In what area of your life could you afford more honesty, and express your heart more truthfully?
 And like a sleeping serpent kundalini Shakti lies coiled at the base of the spine, the symbol of the ultimate goal of transcendence, liberation and consciousness.

As you rise into Cobra, Inhale, using a positive affirmation or strong image of what you hope to achieve. Ask for healing and strength to meet the challenges this New Year will bring.

“I rise joyfully to meet each new opportunity.”

As you inhale, visualize the breath flowing through the throat chakra giving you the power to communicate truthfully and freely your new intentions.

See it fill your heart centre, opening your heart to new experiences and remember to have compassion for yourself when you struggle or feel you have failed in your resolution. We are allowed to fail before we succeed.

 Then follow the path of the breath as it reaches the solar plexus. Our most forceful energy centre. Our centre of commitment, will and determination. The element associated with this chakra is fire. So let the fire in your belly burn away the past or habits that you are trying to change. Let it “fire” you up to achieve what you desire.

With each inhalation be aware of the breath as it expands the abdomen towards the ground. In this posture we are connected to the earth from navel to toes. Receive the support of Mother Earth as your practice Cobra. Let it nurture your resolve.

 And as you exhale, release your fear of change, release the fear of the challenges change will bring, release the burden of any anger that you harbor inside. Release it all.

This posture embodies moving forward in life and rising up to meet new challenges, and is wonderful to practice if you are feeling stuck in a rut as it opens the heart to new possibilities.

However, the image of the snake also has a darker representation. It can deliver a deadly venomous bite when we are least expecting it. It arouses fear of the unexpected. Just like life: unpredictable. So Bhujangasana also invites us to consider where in our lives do we experience fear, the fear of attack through criticism? Fear of death? We can use this posture to explore where the “poison” manifests in our own lives, and let it teach us to rise above it and transmute it.

As you move into Bhujangasana let your body reinforce the desire in your heart and the commitment in your mind to release its transformative energy to bring you positive change and growth for the year ahead.

First published in YOGA Magazine January 2010

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