Question for a reader………
I was wondering what your own take on the Cobra Pose is, and if you think that it can be appropriate in certain specific instances “as is” or if you think that, for it to have any real value in any sitiation, that it needs to be modified in certain ways to prevent its potential upside from being surpassed by any potential darker side.
……have you ever seen benches referred to as the “Yoga Whale?” If so, would it possible for it to have a role in aiding the restoration of T-spine extensibility by using it to hold extended duration stretches, provided you adjusted body position on the bench so as not to allow for lumbar extension (as often seen in pictures of women using the bench) to enable the extended stretch to be “T-spine-centric?”
As we see a well executed Cobra pose above, I think this position is very useful for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, as a screening tool, restrictions through lumbar extension mobility can be very telling. This maneuver, as I believe all yoga positions should, be simple to achieve. Any feeling of restriction or pain is call for analysis and improvement.
Certainly in folks with a confirmed posterior disc problem, this position repeated has good validity in reducing pain. McKenzie would believe there is an anterior migration of the nuclear disc substance central to the IV disc’s annulus outer layer. Stanley Paris I believe does not not share this notion, as he suggests repeated extension in lying creates a slippage of the IV disc back into place. Either way, again, you have great reason to use this maneuver for the right type of back pain.
Where I think this movement should not be used is blindly in the self-treatment of back pain or for yoga enthusiasts that are creating more mobility without commensurate stability. The only difference between these 2 categories are these folks are just not in back pain….yet.
What is debatable is where it fits in for everybody else. I think this technique is very valuable in restoring mobility, and it is a part of 5-7 move package that I give out to most mobility problems (adult males). The way we teach this move is starting prone with hands @ shoulder height. Start by “dialing” the hands externally as if splitting the floor. This should charge the weight of the body into the arms and scapula. Next is to look into the forehead, crinkle the nose upwards, tongue in the roof of the mouth. Then extend the neck followed by the arms pushing up. I would suggest holding for breaths at the top of the move. I use this technique often in my own warmup.
As far as this Yoga Whale, I have no clue. I suspect it is not this.
If indeed the device is as below, there is minimal use for this. For folks that need it, I suspect it would only feed into relative compensatory flexibility. For folks that don’t need it, they are only adding to hypermobility. I’m sure there are times when this device is going to be useful for the right person, but cranking into end range positions with a passive wedge like this is a very slippery slope.
Establishing lumbar mobility in all directions is crucial, flexion and rotation as well. The assumptions are with dysfunctional movement that we lose mobility and segmental spinal stability before all other qualities. To return these qualities, the Cobra Pose has a tremendous role. I suspect most people that use this technique through yoga don’t need it and may be hurting themself by flipping the joint by joint in many cases.