Setup and Key Actions
Lie on your belly with the tops of your feet resting on the floor, hip-distance apart or slightly closer depending on what feels most comfortable for you. Stretch back through your big toes so that your feet point straight back, and press all of your toenails—especially your pinky toenails—into the floor. Engage your low belly. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor beside you so that your elbows are stacked over your wrist creases. (If wrists under elbows feel too intense and/or your shoulders feel tight today, you may wish to begin with your hands a little farther forward). Bow your head slightly and look toward the floor. Lift the fronts of your shoulders away from the floor. Keep your head slightly bowed forward, and on an inhale, lift your chest to move into the backbend. Keep your gaze forward or move the back of your head back slightly to follow the lift of your chest, keeping the back of your neck long.
For a less intense backbend, stick with a "low cobra" (lifting your chest without the use of your hands). You can even let your hands hover off the floor here. Be sure to keep your feet on the floor.