Wheel Pose – also known as Chakrasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, and upward bow pose, is an intermediate/advanced backbound energy boost pose that opens the chest, tones the thighs, abdomen and arms and elevates the entire body.
As a heart-opening stretch, this pose helps to release sadness and depression. Wheel Pose name is derived from the Sanskrit name Chakra, meaning wheel and asana, meaning asana.
The Chakrasana is derived from the Sanskrit name which is made up of three words — Chakra + asana:
- “Chakra” = “wheel”
- “asana” = “pose or posture or seat”
In Hatha yoga, this yoga pose is called Chakrasana (Wheel Pose), while in Ashtanga Vinyasa it is called Upward Bow Pose (Urdva Dhanurasana).
|Know as:||Wheel Pose, Chakrasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, Upward Bow Pose|
|Type:||Inversion, chest opener, backbend|
|Total time:||10 seconds 3 repetitions|
|Chakra:||Sahasrara Chakra, Ajna Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, Anahata Chakra, Manipura Chakra|
|Indications:||Stimulate pituitary and thyroid, back problems, asthma, infertility|
|Counterposes:||Standing Forward Bend Pose, Apanasana, Ardha matsyendrasana, Janu sirsasana, Supta padangusthasana|
|Preparatory poses:||Bridge pose, Supta virasana, Urdhva mukha svanasana|
|Follow-up poses:||Eka pada urdhva dhanurasana, Corpse Pose, Reclining Bound Angle Pose, Natarajasana|
|Contraindications:||Low blood pressure or high blood pressure, Heart problems, Headache, Back injury, Diarrhea, Carpal tunnel syndrome,|
Step-by-step instructions of Wheel Pose
- Start to lie on your back on the floor.
- Bend your knees, bring the soles of your feet closer to the buttocks.
- Reach down with your fingers and make sure you can just hold your heel. The feet should be parallel and the distance of the hips should be different.
- Bend your elbows and bring the palms of your hands under your shoulders with fingers pointing towards your feet.
- Inhale and press your palms and your feet down as you raise your shoulders and hips off the floor. Do not press all the way yet.
- Bring the crown of your head to the yoga mat.
- Stop here for a moment as you make sure that your elbows are staying parallel and not separating from the sides.
- Straighten your arms as you raise your head from the floor.
- Keep your feet parallel and knees in line with your feet.
- Push your chest towards the wall behind you.
- Start straightening your legs.
- To come down, tuck your chin in your chest and bring it down slowly.
- Relax, allow the knees to knock together.
- Try to do your backbend in sets of three. If it is too much to do three wheels at first, then you can mix in a bridge or two.
Tip and suggestions
Form is everything in yoga (technically, form is everything in any workout, but it is double for centuries old asanas).
Pain or discomfort from bending the back is usually experienced in the lumbar region (low back). To protect the lumbar spine, try bending lower than that area and higher than the upper back. Attach abdominals to reduce weight from the lumbar muscles.
The pose will feel different for everyone, so safely and slowly move through different motions to see what works. For example, if the posture still feels crisp, try to tilt the pelvis backwards, then try to relax the glutes. Always, listen to your body and respect whenever you are in practice!
If you have any injury or chronic problems in your knees, wrists, shoulders, neck or back, you should not do wheel pose. Do not force your body into a pose before it is flexible enough to do so without tension. Bend as far as you can naturally come back. With continuous practice, you will gradually build your flexibility to achieve posture.
Variation and Modification of wheel pose
With most yoga poses, you can do this mudra in various ways to make it more accessible or to deepen the pose.
If you have shoulders, try to stretch your hands a little wider than your shoulders before doing push ups. Sometimes this little extra space allows you to straighten your arms more.
Try the pose on the wall. Get two blocks and place them against the wall. Place each hand on a block and then push up as described above. If it is hard on your wrist, try tilting the block against the wall at a 45 degree angle.
Recruit a partner. Establish yourself on the floor and then stand behind your head with your partner facing you. Then keep your feet under your shoulders. When you press, instead of placing your hands on the floor, hold their ankles.
Use a strap on your upper arm to keep them apart. Make a loop in the strap that is about the width of your shoulders. Slide it on your arms above the elbow before you press.
Physical and Energetic benefits
- Strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, lower back muscles.
- Stretches your hip flexors, muscles of the abdomen, wrists.
- Expands your chest, lungs, shoulders.
- Stimulates your thyroid and pituitary glands.
- Wheel Pose promotes compassion and courage.
- It boosts your energy.
- Lifts overall your mood.
- Enlivens the chakras.
Preparatory Poses to achieve wheel pose
Practice makes progress! Follow these steps to safely enter the wheel pose (Chakrasana or Urdhva Dhanurasana).
- Shoulder opener with blocks (child pose with blocks)
- Puppy pose (uttana shishosana)
- Reclined warrior pose (Reclining Hero Pose or Supta Virasana)
- Crescent Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
- Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Remember that wheel pose is a high demand and challenging peak pose, so if you are not able to access it immediately, it will not be wrong! Practice this sequence as many times as you want and make sure to stay consistent with your practice.
Whether or not you achieve wheel poses, twists are a great way to relieve tension on the spine and increase circulation in the body.
If you achieve the wheel pose, then enjoy the new freedom and liberation you have discovered in your body!
And like a good yogi, always be kind and kind with yourself.
1. Shoulder opener with blocks
- Grab a block and take things to the next level.
- Place blocks on top of your yoga mat, extend your hands forward on the mat so that your hips rise above your heel.
- Place your elbows on the block, pointing your hands towards the ceiling in the prayer position.
- Now, start lowering your head between your fore-arms and pulling your hips back slightly.
- You will feel an intense stretch in your shoulders, so move only as far as your body feels safe.
2. Puppy pose
- Start on your mat in tabletop posture.
- Keep your shoulders directly above your wrists and your hips just above your knees. Instead of pointing them tuck your toes.
- Keep your hips above your knees and slowly move your hands forward.
- Depending on your body and neck, either rest your forehead on the mat, a block, or bring your gaze forward so that your chin rests gently on the mat.
- To deepen the stretch along your spine and through the chest and shoulders, press more firmly through the hands as you pull the hips back to create traction.
- Hold for one minute.
- When you are ready to get out of the posture, move your hips back to the baby pose.
3. Reclined warrior pose
- Beginning by sitting in the hero pose (Virasana).
- In this position, your upper body is straight and your legs are bent back at the knees, so the feet are on either side of your upper thighs.
- Bring your hands to the floor on either side of your hips.
- As you tilt your torso backward, begin moving your hands back towards your butt.
- Bend your elbows to come down on your forearms.
- If you feel pain in your knees or lower back, then quit this because these are not areas that are intended to stretch in this pose.
- Make sure your knees are close together. Do not let them separate.
- Stay in an inclined position for five to 10 breaths.
- To come out, pick yourself up on your forearms first.
- Then press into hands to bring yourself all the way to sit.
4. Crescent Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
- Begin the posture by coming into the Downward Dog Pose, Downward-facing Dog Pose.
- Once you are in the posture, exhale and place your right foot next to your right hand. Make sure your right knee and ankle are in a row.
- Slowly bring down the left knee, placing it on the floor just behind your hips.
- Inhale, and lift your torso. Then, raise your hands above your head, such that your biceps are next to your ears, and your palms facing each other.
- Exhale, allow your hips to move down and forward, as if you feel a nice stretch in the frontal area of your leg and hip flexors.
- Pull your tailbone towards the ground.
- Extend your lower back while attaching your spine.
- Turn your arms back and forth so that your heart is pushed up. As you move into a light backbend, look back.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds. You can also lift the knee of the hind leg from the mat to get into a full crescent posture.
- To release the pose, place your hands back on the mat, and move to downward dog pose.
- Repeat the pose forward with your left leg.
5. Bridge pose
- Lie on your back, bend your knees and place feet on the floor. Spread your arms along the floor, palms flat.
- Press your feet and hands firmly on the floor. While exhaling, raise your hips towards the ceiling.
- Holding your buttocks away from the floor, pull your tailbone towards your pubic bone. Do not squeeze your glutes or flex buttocks.
- Roll your shoulders back and under your body. Hold your hands and extend your arms along the floor under your pelvis.
- Straighten your arms as much as possible, push your forearm into the mat. Reach your knuckles towards your heel.
- Keep your thighs and feet parallel – do not climb the outer edges of your feet or leave your knees together.
- Press your weight evenly on all four corners of both legs. Extend your tailbone to the back of your knees.
- Hold for one minute. To release, open your hands and place them under the palms along your body.
- While exhaling, slowly roll your spine along the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae. Allow your knees to fall together.
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Written by Amit Kumar. He is a certified Yoga Instructor; Diploma in sports & exercise and nutrition; Diploma in fitness and weight loss; Diploma in Nutrition; Diploma in Nutrition, Food, Science and Menu Planning.