Snake Pose - Sarpasana

Snake Pose - YanvaYoga


Snake Pose or Sarpasana (sar-PAH-sah-nah) is derived from two Sanskrit terms ‘sarpam’, which means snake, and ‘asana’ which means posture. The physical body in this posture is a close resemblance of a snake, hence the name.

Snake Pose unlike Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), is an unsupported backbend, making it a challenging one for the core (abs) and lower back. This prone practice initially may seem hard on the back and lower abdomen, but with intelligent use of the pelvis, psoas, chest, and gluteus, the torso can be lifted to go gently in a backbend. The use of the arms with the engaging of the triceps and biceps keeps the body stable and in balance. In addition, the arms and shoulders help open the chest keeping the breathing process deep and slow, thereby supporting the body to remain stable, balancing on the upper thighs and pelvis.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Lay down on your belly (in what's called prone position) with your forehead flat to the mat.
Step 2
Clasp your hands together behind you, just above your tailbone.
Step 3
Point your toes and press the feet and heels together. Subtly take the inner thighs towards the sky. Lift your kneecaps to engage your quad muscles. Create one long, tight "tail" behind you.
Step 4
Press the tops of the feet down into the mat.
Step 5
Take a deep inhale and lift your head, chest, shoulders, and abdomen off the mat.
Step 6
Contract the back muscles and energetically send your clasped knuckles towards your feet.
Step 7
Simultaneously, push the energy through your sternum (or breastbone) forward to fully open the chest.
Step 8
Release your shoulders down your back, away from your ears.
Step 9
Hold for 8 breaths, or as long as feels comfortable.
Step 10
Slowly lower vertebra by vertebra.

Benefits and Contraindications


Opens the chest and lungs

Gently stretches the shoulders

Strengthens the back

Improves posture


Stomach ulcer


High blood pressure

Photo poses in different angles

Modifications, Props and Tips

  • Beginners due to a stiffened shoulder might be having difficulty in grasping the hand behind the body. So, by grabbing a rope or strap in a clasped fist, one can reach each other or by sliding the fist to the middle. However, regular practice gradually releases the stiffness from the shoulder.
  • Weak core muscles and lack of spinal flexibility make it harder to lift off the torso from the floor. So, beginners can rest their torso against the wall and can turn their head to either side with hands beside the waist. This will establish flexibility in the spine and stretch the core as well.
  • Practitioners find difficulty in keeping the final pose due to pressure on the abdomen. It makes snake pose uncomfortable in breathing. They place a pillow or bolster under their floating ribs. This will distribute the weight of the torso on the entire props and assist in breathing during the practice.


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Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings. After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva. To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics. Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga. At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.