How To Do Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
An advanced pose, Upward Bow or the Wheel Yoga Pose has been known for its multipurpose uses. From stretching to strengthening to adding flexibility, some also consider Urdhva Dhanurasana Yoga an all-comprehensive sequence. Called by many names like Wheel Pose, Chakrasana or Urdhva Dhanurasana, many practitioners find it difficult to simply slide in this pose, while others, with natural flexibility, can perform this pose in a jiffy.
‘Urdhva’ refers to ‘upward’ in Sanskrit, whereas, ‘Dhanur’ refers to ‘Bow’, and together it becomes the ‘Upward Facing Bow Pose’, yet another name for this infamous pose. Being an advanced pose, it is advised that Urdhva Dhanurasana sequence must be followed in an orderly fashion to maximize the Urdhva Dhanurasana benefits. Let us go through all the steps required to perform this pose, along with its modifications, contraindications, and benefits.
Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Perform This Asana:
Step 1: Lie down in a supine position on the yoga mat and bend the knees to place the heels as close to the sit bones as possible. The practitioner must prepare his or her mind for the deep backbend and gather the focus inwards to perform the Urdhva Dhanurasana steps.
Step 2: Take the arms behind the head to bend the elbows and place both the palms near the head on the yoga mat. The fingers will be spread for a greater grip and they will point in the direction of the body whereas the forearms would be almost perpendicular to the floor.
Step 3: Now, press the feet into the ground. Exhale and push the tailbone up into the air, gradually lifting the buttocks off the floor. As the entire lower body is in the air, bring your attention to the hands. In the same fashion, press the hands into the floor, the shoulder blades pressed against the back to lift the crown of the head in the air. Stay here for a few breaths to gain a grip on the pose.
Step 4: In order to enter Urdhva Dhanurasana completely, firmly press the palms and feet further into the floor and straighten the hands all the way to gain length and lift the head away from the floor. The pubis will be lifted towards the navel and the lower back will be arched beautifully (no loose movements). The knees are gently bent, and the tailbone and knee will come in same focus line.
Step 5: Stay in the pose for 3 to 5 breaths and gradually come out of it by first bringing the head to the floor and then the back. Perform this pose a couple of times before switching to another asana.
Modifications & Variations
Urdhva Dhanurasana Sequence is an advanced sequence and requires a greater groundwork. In order to perform it completely, the practitioners must first start with its preparation by performing simpler asanas like Camel Pose, Cobra Pose, Upward Facing Dog Pose, Bow Pose, etc.
For those of us who are closer to performing the pose thoroughly can simply start by placing blocks under the palms of their hands or the feet before starting the upward lifting action. A small edge of height by way of the block can go a long way for the intermediate practitioner. If the blocks are not wooden, chances are that the hands or feet might slip. In this case, either place the block against the wall or cover the block with a sticky mat and then perform the pose to avoid slipping.
For the advanced level practitioners, they can simply deepen the Urdhva Dhanurasana benefits by lifting the heels when performing the pose. Press the tailbone further up and walk the heels towards the hands to have a deeper arch in the back.
Benefits & Advantages
- With age, the spinal column tends to compress due to gravitational pull, wrong sitting posture, or bad lifestyle habits. This pose stretches and strengthens the spine and creates greater elasticity to offer longer, younger spine
- Practitioners who are looking to enhance the robustness of the arms, legs, back, wrists, shoulders, etc., will find their strength increasing if they regularly perform this pose. This pose will also help in performing other advanced poses like Peacock Pose, Handstand, etc.
- Expanding the chest and opening the heart center, it is rightly called the heart chakra-opening pose. The practitioners can experience heightened compassion and empathy for others. Furthermore, the expanding motion of chest allows greater oxygen to get in the body and creates a calming effect as well
- Urdhva Dhanurasana benefits also say that this pose is a fat burning pose. With the help of stretching and strengthening motion of the abdomen and the obliques, this pose works well with the weight watchers.
- Working on both, Thyroid and Pituitary glands, the pose is known to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Also, it helps in regulating the metabolism of the body and increase intuitiveness.
- Further, Urdhva Dhanurasana helps in creating a balance in the hormone secretion in the entire body
- Urdhva Dhanurasana for beginners can be challenging on the back. In case of any pain or back injury, the practitioners must stop performing the pose and focus on other easier poses and gradually build up their strength for performing Urdhva Dhanurasana
Students with a headache, migraine, high BP, etc., must not perform this pose or perform it for the shorter duration under the expert guidance only
To know more about Wheel Pose in further detail, explore our Yoga Teacher Training In India.