Pose Clinic: Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose)

Pose Clinic: Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose)

If you CAN, then you MUST.

If you’ve ever been to a DDY class, you’ve probably heard this phrase for one pose in particular--wheel pose. Wheel pose is part of the IGNITING sequence of the Baptiste Yoga Journey into Power Sequence. People create so much drama around this pose, moaning and groaning about how hard it is or how they can’t do it. We all go through the “wheel-prep” to escape a few breaths of holding this pose. I’ll admit, it’s not the easiest pose, especially at the end of class, but it’s far from impossible. It takes patience and practice to pop into wheel.

What do you lose by hesitating to push up?

Benefits of wheel pose:

  • Stretches your hip flexors and quadriceps muscles

  • Improves posture by strengthening your shoulders

  • Opens your chest, lungs, and heart

  • Slows down our blood flow and decreases blood pressure

  • Relieves tension and stress from sitting at a desk all day

  • Helps maintain emotional stability

  • Increases energy and positivity

I’ll say it again for the people in the back, WHEEL IS GOOD.

Okay, wheel is great! But how do you actually get into wheel pose?

Always warm up your back before going into wheel. You can do this by practicing locust pose, upward facing dog, or bridge pose.

After you’re all fired up, roll onto your back and bring your feet as close to your booty as you can. Turn both of your feet to face twelve o’clock.

Place your hands next to your ears.

Ground down through the four corners of your hands and feet. Push up toward the ceiling.

Roll your inner thighs toward your mat and continue to press your hips up even higher. Take long deep breaths while you’re up here.

When you’re ready to come out of wheel, tuck your chin and slowly lower your hips down.

 Photos by @ActivelyDisruptivePhotography

Photos by @ActivelyDisruptivePhotography

Wheel can be modified in so many ways to meet you where you are.

Beginner: Push up onto the top of your head. Leave your head on your mat and press through your hands and your feet. Keep the majority of your weight in your hands and feet, not your head!

Intermediate: Three-legged wheel. Press up into wheel pose. Lift your right leg to the ceiling. Keep your top foot active. Ground down into the Earth through your hands and bottom foot. Repeat on the other side.

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Intermediate: Forearm wheel. Press up into wheel pose. Bend your elbows. Slowly start to lower down onto your forearms one arm at a time. Bring your hands together under your back. Press your shoulder blades into your spine and hug them into your body.

Advanced: Kapotasana. Press up into wheel pose. Rise up on your toes and walk your feet in as close to your hands as possible. Tuck your toes of your right or left foot and begin to lower onto your shin. Repeat on the other side. With both shins on your mat, slowly start to lower down onto your forearms. Bring your hands in line with your feet. Focus on pressing your hips high to the ceiling. There are many ways to get into this variation; find the one that works for your body.

After you finish wheel, resist the urge to hug your knees to your chest. It’s important to reset your spine before contracting those muscles in the opposite direction. Instead, come to a neutral position like Supta Badha Konasana (butterfly pose) and take a few long, deep breaths.

Written by Zoe Becerra

Zoe is a RYT-200 certified yoga teacher and you can meet her on your mat every Friday at 4:30 PM @DDY Atlanta for Power Hour.