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Difference between Cobra Pose and Upward Facing Dog pose in Yoga

Updated: May 10, 2021

Urdhva Mukha svanasana vs. Bhujangasana

Have you ever heard your teacher call out for an upward dog in a sun salutation sequence? What they were expecting you to do is a cobra pose. Yoga has evolved in the last couple of decades, so did the asanas and postures. Hatha Yoga is the ancient practice of Yoga, then followed other modalities. People often confuse these two asanas. These may appear to be similar, but the asana's anatomy sets an entirely different picture from each other. Let me explain how they are different.

The significant difference in these asanas is that in Bhujangasana, your legs, pelvis, and hands take the pressure evenly. Whereas in Urdhva Mukha svanasana, the pressure is only on your hands and shoulders.

Another difference between Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and Bhujangasana is that in Bhujangasana, you are trying to achieve more of coiling of your spine, a back bending. To this end, you do not need to straighten your arms in Bhujangasana but rather keep them bent and your elbows close to your body so you can draw your torso more and more into a coiling backbend.

Susceptible to Injuries?

Yes! Bhujangasana, when done incorrectly, can put pressure on your lumbar spine, while Urdhwa Mukha svanasana can add unnecessary stress to your wrists and shoulders.

Here are some tips to get these asanas right :)


For the cobra pose, start with a baby cobra and train yourself to full cobra.

Avoid adding pressure to the lower back, and instead push the pubic bone down and engage your glutes. Keep your feet together if you can, or place a yoga brick or two between your feet. Squeeze in your glutes, roll your thighs inwards, and tuck your arms/elbows towards your torso. Palms under your chest and push up, gently opening up your shoulders and pushing the sternum up towards the ceiling. Gently stretch your spine and arch your back.

Urdhva mukha Svanasana-

Start by spreading your feet about hip-width apart and pressing the toes down into the floor to lift your body gently. Strengthen the legs, engage the core, press into your hands and make sure your shoulders are aligned vertically over your hands with your arms perpendicular to the floor. Lift through your inner arms and turn your arms outward so that your internal elbow creases face forward.

Make sure to straighten your arms throughout and widen your chest out, pull your shoulders back as much as possible, pushing the chest in front of your hands.

Contact Points:

In Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), the tops of the feet, knees, thighs, pubic bone, and hands all press down on the mat.

In Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), just the tops of the feet and the hands press down to lift the knees, thighs, and pelvis off the mat.

Bhujangasana is commonly used in Hatha Yoga and sometimes in Ashtanga Yoga. Hatha Yoga classical sequence of Suryanamaskarams - Sun salutations calls for Bhujanagasana.

Ashtanga Yoga sun salutations mostly use Chaturanga and a cobra. Iyengar Yoga doesn't have a sequence, and they perform the more advanced version of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana ) the upward-facing dog. Nevertheless, both the asanas are beneficial in their ways, but it's essential to understand the differences and do these asanas right.

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