What if there was just one pose that could raise your testosterone levels significantly?
Well, we might have found it!
Reading “The Science of Yoga” by William Broad, a Russian study was conducted on just one pose in one session. A very niche and narrow study!
They took blood samples before and after the pose, no more than 5 minutes apart.
The report published in 2004 showed numerous changes. Cortisol levels dropped on average by 11% on(cortisol being the hormone that raises blood sugar and blood pressure in a stressful situation).
For guys, the interesting finding was the effect on testosterone levels.
On average, testosterone levels had significantly increased by 16% but the range was anywhere between 2 - 33%. Imagine being the bloke who had a 33% increase in testosterone!
What is this elusive pose, I hear you ask?
That will be the Cobra.
Cobra is a prone pose, meaning you’re on your front. It’s a gentler back bend compared to some of the others so if you do struggle with tightness in the back body, it’s a good place to start.
Muscles that are targeted in this pose are...
Benefits of the cobra are...
Strengthens the back and spine
Awesome stretch through the front body
Helps relieve stress
Good for those that suffer with sciatica
Tones the butt
And, of course, raises your testosterone levels!
Limitations that could hold you back
If you’re suffering from a bad back, then either avoid or just go super easy, as in back off from going to what you think your full depth is. You can do this away from the floor to ease yourself into eventually doing this, such as standing by a chair and bending your back in a standing position.
It’s a lovely stretch if you’ve had an ab session in the past few days (sort out those DOMs) but know the difference between soreness and injury. If there’s muscle pain in the stomach, I wouldn’t be stretching it further.
Steps towards Cobra
Cobra is a slight variation on other stretches too, sitting in between sphinx and upward facing dog. Here are the steps to a good Cobra.
Start by lying face down on the floor, on the tops of your feet (so toes pointing back)
Bend your elbows and hug them into the sides of your body. Bring your hands underneath your shoulders with your fingers spread.
Push down into the floor with the tops of your feet and your pelvis. On the inhale, start to straighten your arms to the point that you’re in a back bend but your pelvis isn’t lifting. Pull back slightly on the heels of your hand. We want that pelvis firmly into the floor the whole time.
Bring your shoulder blades down to avoid shoulder shrug. Lift up through your chest and look up. The purpose of looking up is to spread the backbend evenly throughout the spine, including the back of your neck (again, don’t overdo it on the neck.)
Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute before slowly lowering your chest to the floor and unbending your spine one vertebrae at a time
A common fault in this pose is where you focus your thinking. A lot of people think the weight should be in the hands and by pushing up and back, that will create the backbend.
The focus should be on your legs, pelvis and back. The legs and pelvis should remain active and be pushed firmly into the floor, with your back extensors creating the back bend. Your arms are there for support.
How to make it more challenging
You can make this more challenging by straightening the arms into upward facing dog and holding for longer.
This is a great pose and introduction into backbending but also great for raising your libido!
Give it a try!
In a bit.