If you’ve ever done a yoga class, typically you will go into some variation of Cobra Pose as part of a Sun Salutation series. The Cobra Pose in a Thai Massage is different in that you stay relaxed as the therapist moves you into the stretch. The emphasis, as you can see in the picture, is more about opening the chest, shoulders, and back.
There are several variations of the Cobra Pose when giving a Thai Massage–one type is the one shown–this variation is best for someone who has hypermobility in her hips and low back–also for someone who tends to have low back pain and sciatica.
To try this variation, place your knees at the base of your receiver’s glutes, Sits Bones. Make sure to press your knees down and towards the receiver’s glutes, so you traction the low back/sacrum as you do this stretch. Ask the receiver to hold onto your wrists or forearms. Lean forward and then lean back and pull the receiver along with you. Inhale as the receiver is still down, and exhale as you lift the person and lean back. The receiver should do the same breath. This variation is best for someone with low back pain.
The other variation is to stand to either side of the receiver, at the hip level. Same breath–make sure to bend your knees as you lift the person. Of course, if someone has had a recent shoulder injury or back injury, you should not do this stretch. Also be sure to instruct the receiver to relax her head down, chin to the chest so her neck is not stressed. Repeat the stretch 2 more times.