Embodying Spinal Fluidity is the focus of this Asana Element.
One aspect of spinal fluidity that may be new or inspirational to you is the support the spine enjoys from underneath it, the undersupport of the heart to arms connection (Hartley, 1989).
I find this a very integrative and sensation-full method for Bhujanghansana (Cobra) variations practice. Perhaps you will as well.
Yoga Art by LoveHeartsArt, Original drawings by Lovetta Reyes-Cairo
from Linda Hartley's Wisdom of the Body Moving, pg. 186
You can think of the back of your heart as under or in front of the ventral side of the spinal column.
As you breathe into the back of the heart, a sensation of back body expansion or spreading out from between the center of the shoulder blades maybe be present. Like the protective hood of a Cobra.
This sense of expansion and presence could follow the spinal column to the cervical spine and into the skull....and to the lower rib basket (cage), into the lumbar and on to the sacrum.
The sense of expansion can also move from the front of my heart laterally, along my collar bones into the shoulders, and into each arm individually. It can move from the front of my
heart along the inner surface of the sterum, toward the naval and upward toward the manubrium. The front ribs absorb the expansion of the heart and spiral it around the torso, down the side bodies, and into the limbs, like reverberation rings on the surface of a pool of water. Reverberation is a dance of fluid pulsation and perhaps buoyancy. How do you experience this at first? How might this sensation grow over time?
In a posture like Sphinx, the arms and underside of the body press down into the earth. This downward-ness supports the heart as it expands upward, and outward, and downward, expanding in all directions. I like to connect the bottom of my heart to my navel, then the perineum in the center of the pelvic floor...then to the point of the tail bone (coccyx), and down to the heels and tops of the feet and toes. Then a pulse washes up from the earthbound feet, undersupporting the heart as the head rises effortlessly with the barely-perceptible earthbound support of the arms and hands. The ribs have a lovely buoyancy, a lightness amplifying the expansive heart to spine consciousness.
Coming down from the pose can be slow, pulsating feet to head, or "tail to head" rolling downward into the earth. Rest here on the Front Body and pulse. Perhaps practice this several times, synchronizing breath and sensation possibilities.
If one would like to move upward to a deeper curl of Cobra pose (Cairo's drawing above), try establishing this base of pulsation first. I feel my whole body doing the pose rather than just my arms. My arms are not needed as much because my tail (feet and legs) are pressing down into and connected to earth. Perhaps this will be your experience; many experiences are possible!
The Shape and Expansiveness of Cobra in Other Postures:
There are standing shapes or postures that have Cobra Expansion possibilities. These postures are essentially Cobra, but from a different alignment with gravity and have a similar yet unique pulsation. What if we took the practices above into some of the following (heart will be earthing through the feet or knees and hands). Synchronize breath as feels supportive: and most fluid in movement:
Standing Forward Folds, Standing backbends
Ustrasana, Camel Postures
Cat & Cow in Quadraped (Table)
Pelvic Tilts in Constructive Rest Posture (Tailbone goes down, hip pointers go up, heart rises too; then bring tailbone to neutral and lumbar spine and heart rest on earth.)
Avison, Joanne. (2015). Yoga: Fascia, Anatomy, and Movement. Handspring Publishing.
Hartley, Linda. (1989, 1995). Wisdom of the Body Moving. North Altanic Books. Berkeley, CA.