Sphinx pose, or salamba bhujangasana, is a beginner-level backbend. A perfect introductory yoga pose to learn about backbends, sphinx pose may be done by itself or incorporated into a routine. If you are new to yoga or are unsure of your abilities, it may be a great way to begin investigating backbends and where you can go with your practice. It’s easy to understand why we call it the sphinx pose; the position is similar to the position of the Egyptian mythical creature.
Sphinx is a variation of cobra pose, and is often considered easier and lighter on the body. The Sanskrit term salamba bhujangasana translates roughly to “cobra pose with support.” Rather than resting on the hands and wrists, we are resting on our forearms during this pose. You can see a photo of a young woman in sphinx pose below.
There are many benefits to this pose, as is true for many yoga poses. Different people often find different benefits from each pose, as yoga is really a practice in investigating for ourselves what our experience is. Here are a few benefits of the pose:
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of this pose is that it offers a relatively safe and easy introduction to the practice of backbends. Backbends are a wonderful set of yoga poses with many benefits. However, they can also be dangerous if not practiced with patience and mindfulness. Sphinx pose offers a gentle way into this collection of poses.
Like many other backbend poses, sphinx is a pose that strengthens the spine. Over time, we can build the strength of our spine which can help with back pain and muscle soreness. This pose takes time to strengthen the spine, so we should be careful when first starting as our spine may not be strong quite yet.
This is a great pose for opening the chest. This helps us expand in the chest and shoulders, taking pressure off the muscles in the back and neck. Furthermore, opening the chest can increase circulation and sense of wellbeing. Opening the chest is a great benefit that also helps us breathe more deeply and freely.
Like other yoga poses, you can increase blood circulation with sphinx pose. Increased circulation helps the body get more oxygen, strengthens the muscles in the heart and arteries, and is one of the overall best things we can do for our health!
Sphinx pose is also a great pose for recovery because of its power to invigorate the body in a relaxing way. It is both energizing and soothing. Whenever we work with somebody recovering from addiction, we make sure to introduce this pose as a tool for their toolbox.
When getting into salamba bhujangasana for the first few times, make sure to move slowly and carefully. Here are some steps to do the pose:
When doing any backbend pose, including the sphinx pose, we need to be careful. If done wrong, we can injure our backs. Remember to be gentle with yourself, use your practice as one of mindfulness, and listen to your body. If you’re doing this pose for the first time, it may be helpful to do it with a more experienced student present. If you’re doing it by yourself, move slowly and deliberately. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that something isn’t working!