Energizing Wheel Pose, or Urdhva Dhanurasana, is the backward bend that stretches the front body while strengthening the back body, hamstrings, and glutes. As well as mobility of the spine, this demanding backbend also requires mobility of the shoulders. Also referred to as Upward Bow Pose, this posture can be as frustrating to some as it is liberating to others.
We’ll examine a few finer points in this complex but deceptive posture.
Release the Hips and Thighs
The preparation for the wheel pose emphasizes opening and strengthening the shoulders. It is important to spend time maintaining and opening your thighs.
Anjaneyasana can be a simple lunge to bring space from the top of the leg toward the base of the throat. Use Anjaneyasana to lunge in one to three rounds Chandra Namaskar. Pay attention to the rooting of the tailbone and to lifting and reaching the arms back.
Lizard Lunge is another posture that opens the thighs and hips in front. King Arthur’s Pose and Pigeon Pose are also good options.
A backbend can be referred to as “spinal extension” anatomically. The spine must be able to move freely for it to extend optimally. We can improve the spine’s flexibility and mobility by practicing the four spine movements daily. It will, of course, also improve our backbends.
Spinal extension: Cow Pose (also known as Cobra Pose), Dancer’s Pose, and Bow Pose.
Spinal flexion in Cat Pose (Standing Forward Fold), Wide-Legged forward fold, Pigeon Pose.
Crescent Moon Pose (gate Pose), Reverse Warrior, and other poses that allow for lateral spinal flexion.
Spinal rotation: High Lunge Twist or Seated Prayer Twist.
Hugging the Midline
It is not surprising that our bodies will take the path of the least resistance when we press up into Wheel Pose. This can cause problems for backbends as the external rotation of the hips can compress the lumbar spinal column.
To keep the knees from spreading out and to stay grounded, you need to have a lot more strength in your quadriceps. It would be best if you also had hip flexors that are open. The body will take the easiest way out if any of these muscles are lacking. It will turn the feet so that the entire movement is coming from the lower back. The lumbar region is the most mobile part of the spine. However, compressing this area repeatedly can cause injury.
In order to maintain the integrity of your Wheel Pose, hug the inner thighs towards each other and engage the buttocks equally. This will keep the hips in a neutral position, the internal thighs firm, and the lower back neutral.
Any posture will work. You can squeeze your inner legs toward the midline, whether you are in a position where the legs are apart, such as Warrior Pose, or together, like a chair pose. This specific action will help strengthen your deeper core.
Aligning Hands and Shoulders
You will be grounded to the ground by whatever part of your body is in contact with the mat. The feet and hands (as mentioned above) are the details of the body that energize the entire body, allowing it to lift into a wheel pose. The more you can bounce off the floor, the more your body will lift.
Your posture will be determined by the space between your hands. Your shoulders will have less room to expand if your hands are more narrow than your shoulders. It only takes a small adjustment to your hand placement to give you more freedom.
Consider how wide your hands would be for Downward Dog and experiment with making them 2-5 cm wider.
The shoulders are one of the most crucial parts of your body for achieving Wheel Pose. Shoulders require both strength and flexibility. Practice postures with the arms overhead, as the components are over the head when in Wheel Pose.
Add variations of the postures aforesaid, such as Gomukhasana hands, with fingers interlaced, and palms pressed upwards towards the sky or Garudasana arm.
The Dolphin Pose helps to open the shoulders and strengthen them at the same time, specifically by adduction.
The Wheel Pose
Assuming you have read the instructions above, lay down on your mat with the feet hip-width apart, the shins vertical, and the second toes in line. You can use your body awareness skills to find out what works for you. Place your hands on either side of your neck with your fingertips pointing towards your shoulders. The hands should be at Downward Dog or slightly wider.
Firmly press the inner feet to the floor. (You can even add a block in between your thighs to aid the adduction). As you inhale, press your inner hands and lift the crown of the head. If your shoulders allow, you can walk your fingertips a few centimeters toward the feet. As you prepare to press, inhale and then exhale, pressing firmly into your hands and feet. Bring your elbows straight.
Continue to bounce the feet and hands into the mat. This will activate the quadriceps and shoulders. While maintaining the posture, press your sternum towards the wall it faces. As you push through the feet, pull the heels toward the buttocks to activate the glutes, hamstrings, and hamstrings.
You can feel more freedom in your chest and abdomen. Your hips and thighs will also be freer.