How to Do Sphinx Pose in Yoga (Guide to Salamba Bhujangasana)

The sphinx is a famous mythical creature that has international recognition for the beautiful statues made in ancient Egypt. When you first move into Sphinx Pose, you are not just stretching the back; you are also connecting to this ancient history and embodying this powerful creature as you connect to your own inner power.

“Whether you choose the active or restorative version of this pose, Sphinx Pose is an excellent way to stretch and strengthen the back,” says Yoga Answered contributor Isabella Koepf. “This is often one of the first backbends I teach to beginner students to begin the process of opening the chest and back in a gradual and supported way.”

Sphinx Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Salamba bhujangasana
Pose Type: Chest-Opening Yoga Poses, Yoga Backbend Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Abdomen, spine, buttocks, chest, forearms, shoulders, pelvis, lungs, and thighs
Benefits: Strengthens the spine, stretches the abdomen, stimulates the buttocks, opens the chest, firms the forearms, strengthens the shoulders, grounds the pelvis, expands the lungs, stimulates the thighs, and relaxes the nervous system
Preparatory Poses: Downward Facing Dog Pose, Puppy Pose, Plank Pose, Cobra Pose, Upward-Facing Dog Pose, and Seal Pose

How to Do Sphinx Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Begin by lying flat on your belly, using your hands as a pillow to rest your forehead down into Crocodile Pose.
  2. Press your pelvis, tailbone, thighs, and the tops of your feet down towards the ground, lengthening your entire body.
  3. Slowly lift your chest up and place your forearms flat on the mat, bringing them in line with your shoulders so that your upper and lower arms form into a 90-degree angle. Your arms should be parallel to each other.
  4. Press your palms flat on the ground, extending through your fingertips.
  5. Lift up through your chest and keep your buttocks firm as you shift into a deeper backbend.
  6. Gently engage your core to protect your spine as you relax deeper into the pose.
  7. Hold the pose for a few breaths. When you are ready to exit the pose, slowly move your elbows out to the sides as you gently lower your chest down towards the ground. Rest your forehead back on your palms to return to Crocodile Pose.

Beginner’s Tip

For a deeper variation, you can place your forearms on top of a bolster or two blocks to raise your arms upwards and increase the backbend.

For a more restorative version, you can place a bolster under your chest towards the top of your abdomen and rest your arms over the bolster with your forehead relaxed onto the edge of the bolster.

During the active version of this pose, try to press your chest forward as you lengthen the base of your spine towards the ground to extend the backbend into your upper back while also protecting your spine. If you feel any tension in your lower back after practicing this pose, then try gently rocking your hips from side to side to release your lower back with a gentle twist.

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