This week I am absolutely obsessed with Wheel pose so I have decided it will be my pose of the week.
URDHVA DHANURASANA is the sanskrit name for wheel. It literally translates to ‘upward bow’.
Wheel is such an amazing backbend and it is actually one of the most powerful poses in yoga altogether! When you are in the pose it feels so good to open up your heart. You can release any emotions which have been blocking you and feel fresh when you come out the pose.
On a physical level wheel opens and releases the upper back, shoulders, chest and hip flexors. So any tension and tightness there should disappear after you have done wheel for a few days.
So how do you do it?
- Start by lying on your back. Have your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Knees should be directly above your feels. Feet hip width apart.
- Place your palms flat on the floor next to your head. Fingers facing in the direction of your feet. About shoulder width.
- Take a moment to press down hard into your feet and hands. You should always have a strong foundation in yoga. In wheel pose your hands and feet are your foundation, so take a moment to press into the ground and make sure they are strong before you lift up.
- Inhale and whilst pressing down through your hands and feet, come to the crown of your head (very gently). You should be pressing up through your hips and down through your hands. Keep a bend in your knees and elbows as when you lock your joints that is when injury occurs. Remember to breathe!
- Exhale to straighten your arms more and push up through your hips until your head is off the mat. You are in wheel pose! Enjoy this deep stretch across your chest and upper back. Stay present in the pose and focus on your breathing. Set your drishti (gaze) on a point behind you, so your neck is long and free.
- Try and stay in the pose for 5 full breaths and then come out. Take your time coming out of any pose as this is when injuries are most likely to occur. As an old saying goes, any fool can get into a pose but it takes skill to come out. So when you are coming out of wheel be careful. Tuck your to protect you neck and slowly bend your arms to lower yourself down.
- Now rest in Supta Baddha Konasana. Take your feet together and knees wide. Rest your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly. Breathe.
If you are just beginning it is great to practice with a friend. Instead of having your hands flat on the floor you can grab their ankles and they stand behind you and assist you gently into wheel. Stay alert to the signals your body is giving you so you know if you have gone too far.
If you are comfortable coming into wheel then stay there for 5 breaths and repeat 3-6 times. Personally I love holding for 10 breaths or longer to feel a real stretch and then I will repeat for maybe 4 times. I definitely feel it in my arms when I do this but it is empowering to know I am growing stronger with every breath.
I am no doctor but I prescribe wheel to everyone everyday! After you have been doing this you will feel more energetic, lighter, a youthfulness and joy! Trust me it is the best medicine.