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Sometimes we get so caught up in the back part of backbending that we forget just how great backends are for opening up our hips. King Cobra pose focuses on stretching out the hip flexors and quad muscles which totally affects how much the rest of our spine can open up when we bend backward.
Getting in: Start in an all-fours tabletop position with your YogDev Yoga Wheel underneath your belly. Slowly lower your hips down until the wheel is resting just below your ribcage and the part of your knee above your kneecap is making contact with the floor. You never want to put direct pressure directly on the kneecap. If you are new to King Cobra this is a great place to hang out and explore. You can let your head fall back to a position that is comfortable for your neck. If you want to take the backbend one step deeper, bring one hand at a time up to rest on the top of your YogDev Yoga Wheel. Once you have settled into your backbend, bend both knees and reach your toes toward your head.
Alignment: Keep your legs hip width apart when setting up King Cobra and make sure your YogDev Yoga Wheel is at the midline of your body. The wheel should be supporting you below but not on the ribs as over time this will cause discomfort.
In the pose: Start with a couple deep, even breaths and check in with your spine to make sure everything feels peachy. Now think of lifting your ribs up away from your YogDev Yoga Wheel to create more length in the back body. Whether your hands are on the floor or the wheel, use some gentle downward pressure through your hands to give your spine more lift and length. Remember to draw your shoulder blades together and down your back to prevent collapsing into your shoulders. Keep your glutes gently engaged and try to touch your big toes together as you relax your hips forward toward the YogDev Yoga Wheel.
Getting Out: Release your legs first and then slowly lift your head back up to neutral. If your hands are on the wheel, bring them back to the floor one at a time. Push your hips up and back until you return to the starting tabletop position.
Benefits: King Cobra has all the stretching and energising benefits of a backbend plus some seriously sweet space for your hip flexors and quads to open up as well. It is very similar to its traditional variation without a YogDev Yoga Wheel. The main difference is that having a YogDev Yoga Wheel as a support for your upper body makes it easier for your hips and quads to relax and stretch out. Over time, regular use of the YogDev Yoga Wheel will allow you to experience deeper backbends. Not bad for a humble little wheel!
Variation(s): You have the option to keep your hands on the floor or bring them up to rest on your YogDev Yoga Wheel. Place your wheel up against a wall for an added feeling of stability. If you have a sensitive neck, keep your neck in a neutral position. For some additional play, try bending only one leg at a time and see how it feels!
Contraindications: No spinal conditions or bubs to be for this pose. As with all back bending activities, make sure your heart is up for it! If ever you are not sure if you are okay to be using the YogDev Yoga Wheel, check with a medical practitioner prior to practicing. While you will not be putting direct pressure on your knees you may find that previous knee injuries prevent you from doing King Cobra. Good thing there are a ton of other asanas for you to try!