Wheel pose

Urdhva Dhanurasana

Categories:
Backbend, Strength, Shoulder opener

The wheel pose opens the shoulders and chest, and lengthens the spine.

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Step by step explanation

The wheel pose can be done by

  1. Start by lying flat on your back.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet parallel and hip-distance apart. Your heels can be close to your hips.
  3. Place your hands close to your shoulders, with your fingertips pointing towards your hips. Keep drawing your elbows towards each other while spreading your fingertips and grounding the palms of your hands into the floor.
  4. Now draw your abdomen in and push your hips up. Press your feet into the ground as you activate your legs, reaching your inner thighs slightly forward and towards each other.
  5. Stay here for a few steady and deep breaths. If its enough for you, you can stay here.
  6. Then, on an inhale press into the palms of your hands, keep the elbows drawing in towards each other and push from the arms upwards. Really press through the hands to, either bring the crown of your head onto the floor or to go for the full expression of the pose by straightening the arms fully. Extend and lift your chest upwards, opening the front of your shoulders.
  7. Focus on drawing your belly in, lifting the chest and pushing the hips a little higher up; perhaps even lengthening the arms further if you have space. Allow your head to hang.
  8. If you can, stay here for five long deep breaths keeping your gaze looking down.
  9. To release, tuck your chin into your chest and slowly bring the back of your head and hips down to the ground. Extend the legs back out in front of you and rest.

Cautions

Read the following cautions to stay safe

  • Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing headaches, dizziness, or if you have problems with your heart.
  • This exercise requires a lot of strength and balance, so if you are inexperienced or do not have the strength yet, it would be better to first try an easier version of this pose. You can find the easier versions under ‘Making the pose easier’.
  • If you are concerned about anything of this pose, please contact your physician on whether this practice is good for you.

Making the pose easier

  • If you would like to make the pose easier, you can rest the head on the floor instead of lifting it off. Rest the head with the crown on the floor. Make sure the pressure on the neck and head is low, by engaging the arms.
  • If you still find the alternate version with the head on the floor too difficult, you can do this pose lifting only the hips off the floor. Build up arm strength with poses like the plank pose or the low plank pose and open the front of your shoulders with a pose like the cow face pose.
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Suggested preparation poses

Suggested follow-up poses