Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose) - Sharp Muscle
9 min read
Updated: March 5, 2023

The Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana, also known as Rising Standing Cobra Pose, is an advance level of deeper back bend yoga pose actuates using the hips, legs, and feet efficiently.


Known as:Rising Standing Cobra Pose, Utthita Bhujangasana, Standing Cobra Pose, Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana, Utthita Nindra Bhujangasana
Sanskrit name:उत्थित स्थिति भुजङ्गासन
IAST:ūṭhita sthiti bhujaṅgāsana
Pronunciation:oot-TEE-tah stee-TEE boo-jahn-GAHS-uh-nuh
Type:Standing, backbend
Focus:Entire front body, back, spine, core, chest, psoas
Total time:Up to 60 seconds
0Drishti:Third eye, between the eyebrows (Bhrumadhye or Ajna Chakra)
Chakra:Sahasrara Chakra, Ajna Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, Anahata Chakra, Manipura Chakra
Indications:Digestive organs, liver and pancreas, thyroid gland
Counterpose:Standing forward fold (Uttanasana), Child’s pose (Balasana), Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana), Reclined spinal twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Preparatory poses:Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Triangle pose (Trikonasana), Ustrasana (Camel Pose), Floating Camal Pose, Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Locust pose (Salabhasana)
Follow-up poses:Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I), Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), Tree pose (Vrikshasana), Half-moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Contraindications:Joint and back issues, headaches, low or high blood pressure, pregnancy


utthita stiti bhujaṅgāsana

Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of the four words — Utthita + Stiti + Bhujanga + Asana:

  1. Utthita” = “stretched”
  2. Stiti” = “upright or standing”
  3. Bhujanga” = “cobra or snake”
  4. Asana” = “pose or posture”

The Asana, an advanced pose, is practiced very often under Iyengar yoga and Ashtanga yoga so that a more challenging pose to achieve flexibility is mastered in Wheel Pose (Chakrasana) and is done from this standing position.

This pose is practiced along with other advanced level back bend poses. In yoga, each pose is derived from the practice of the foundation posture Tadasana (Mountain Pose) which helps with both stability and awareness.

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Therefore, you can get creative with a yoga sequence focusing on all forms of Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

Benefits of Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose)

This yoga pose is practiced by those people whose spine is flexible, and the back muscles are strong.

Considering that this pose is performed with the practice of base pose Standing Back Bend Pose or Anuvittasana, the physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Stretches abdominal and chest
    • Strengthen the entire back and shoulders
    • Improves the blood circulation and digestion
    • Improves the upper and middle back flexibility
    • Open shoulder, neck and relieve its pain
    • Massages the abdominal organs
  2. Mental Benefits:

Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose) Practice Guide

  • Begin with Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Keeping your feet together, keep your hands loose on either side of your hips.
  • Exhale and place your hands behind your hips. They give support as you bend backwards.
  • Tilt the head back and lean back as far as possible without forcing your muscles.
  • Keep your pelvis as straight as possible (lean forward as little) and lean back with your lower back. Keep your legs fully extended. Breathe in slowly.
  • As a more difficult type, you can try placing your hands on the back of your thighs, up to the back of your knees. It encourages you to lean back even more. Stay in this posture for about 60 seconds.
  • Slowly come back into Tadasana (Mountain Pose). If necessary, rest well in Savasana (Corpse Pose).


  • Lean back from your lower back and support your pelvis with your hands at the beginning.
  • Afterwards, you can put your hands behind your knees.
  • Keep the head as far back from the neck as possible and look up. With this yoga pose, you train your sense of balance.
  • It can be difficult in the initial stages. So if you lose balance unexpectedly, practice near a wall to avoid falling backwards.

Anatomy engaging tips

Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose) primarily stretches and strengthens the back muscles, but it also engages and strengthens several other muscle groups in the body. Here are some tips and techniques to engage these muscles effectively:

  • Back muscles: As you bend backwards into the pose, engage your spinal erectors (muscles that run along your spine) to lengthen and strengthen your back muscles. You can do this by pressing your shoulder blades down and lifting your chest towards the ceiling.
  • Core muscles: Engage your core muscles, particularly your abdominal muscles, to protect your lower back and maintain balance. Draw your navel in towards your spine and keep your core muscles active throughout the pose.
  • Leg muscles: Keep your leg muscles active by pressing firmly into the ground with your feet and lifting your kneecaps up towards your thighs. This will help to stabilize your body and support your spine.
  • Arm muscles: Strengthen your arm muscles by keeping your arms straight and lifting them up towards the ceiling. Press your palms together and engage your triceps (back of the upper arm) to keep your arms active.
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By engaging these different muscle groups, you can increase the benefits of Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana and improve your overall strength and flexibility. Engaging these muscles also helps to maintain proper alignment in the pose, which reduces the risk of injury and ensures that you get the most out of the practice.

Common mistakes

Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose) is a challenging pose that requires proper alignment and engagement of several muscle groups. Here are some common mistakes to avoid and why:

  • Overarching the back: This is a common mistake that can put too much pressure on the lower back and cause pain. To avoid this, engage your core muscles and keep your tailbone tucked in towards your pelvis.
  • Locking the knees: Locking your knees can put stress on your joints and cause injury. Keep your knees slightly bent and engage your leg muscles to support your body.
  • Dropping the head: Dropping your head back too far can strain your neck muscles. Instead, keep your gaze forward or slightly upwards, and avoid putting too much pressure on your neck.
  • Not engaging the arms: Failing to engage your arm muscles can make the pose more difficult and reduce its benefits. Keep your arms straight and actively lift them towards the ceiling.
  • Lack of stability: Lack of stability in the pose can cause you to lose balance and fall out of the pose. Make sure to engage your core and leg muscles, press firmly into the ground with your feet, and maintain proper alignment throughout the pose.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can perform Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana safely and effectively, getting the most out of your practice while minimizing the risk of injury.

Variations of Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose)

There are several variations of Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose) that can make the pose more accessible or challenging, depending on your level of experience and flexibility. Here are some variations to try:

  1. Supported backbend: If you have trouble with the full pose, you can start by placing your hands on a wall or the back of a chair to support your backbend. This can help you to gradually build strength and flexibility.
  2. Deep backbend: If you want to deepen the stretch in your back, you can try lifting your arms higher towards the ceiling, reaching your hands towards the ground behind you, or bringing your hands into a reverse prayer position behind your back.
  3. Standing thigh stretch: To stretch your quadriceps (front of the thighs) in addition to your back muscles, you can lift one foot up behind you and hold onto your ankle with one hand. Lean forward slightly to deepen the stretch.
  4. Twisted backbend: To engage your oblique muscles and further improve spinal flexibility, you can twist your torso to one side while in the backbend position, and then switch to the other side.
  5. One-legged backbend: For an advanced variation, you can lift one leg up off the ground while in the backbend position, holding onto your ankle with one hand. This requires strong core and leg muscles, as well as good balance and flexibility.
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By trying out these different variations, you can customize the pose to your own abilities and goals, and challenge yourself to improve your strength and flexibility over time. Always listen to your body and only attempt variations that feel safe and comfortable for you.

Precautions and Contraindications

Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana (Rising Standing Cobra Pose) is generally a safe pose to practice, but there are some precautions and contraindications to be aware of to ensure that you practice the pose safely and avoid injury. Here are some of the most important precautions and contraindications:

  • Pre-existing back or neck injuries: If you have any pre-existing back or neck injuries or conditions, such as herniated discs or arthritis, you should avoid this pose or consult with a healthcare professional before attempting it. The backbend can put stress on these areas and worsen the condition.
  • High or low blood pressure: If you have low or high blood pressure, it’s important to be cautious when practicing this pose, as the inversion and backbend can affect blood pressure. You may need to modify the pose or avoid it altogether if you experience any discomfort or dizziness.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid practicing this pose, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, as it can put pressure on the abdomen and affect blood flow to the fetus.
  • Recent surgery: If you have had any recent surgery, particularly on the back or neck, you should avoid this pose until you have fully recovered and received clearance from your healthcare provider.
  • Lack of flexibility or experience: If you are new to yoga or lack flexibility, you should start with the supported backbend variation and gradually work up to the full pose to avoid injury.

By being aware of these precautions and contraindications, you can ensure that you practice Utthita Stiti Bhujangasana safely and avoid any potential risks or complications. If you have any concerns or questions about practicing this pose, it’s always best to consult with a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional.

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