I remembered the first time I did deep backbending (Urdhva Dhanurasa) at a yoga studio and I thought that I was going to break my bones because I could hear all the bones cracking when I lifted my chest and hips.
I also felt a bit worried because my heart was beating faster than usual and my view of the yoga studio seemed to be so unfamiliar because everything was upside down. I felt anxious that my heart was over my head and you know what they say about not letting your heart take control of your head. Never letting fear dawned upon me, I started to practise the wheel pose from time to time and you know what, the pose grew on me.
I can now say that this is one of my favourite poses of all time because it is an energizing pose. It heats up your body and gives you a “lift” (pun intended) every time you do it. It’s a great pick-me-up whenever you are faced with less-than-stellar days.
I’ve read that this pose is also suitable for people suffering from depression as Urdhva Dhanurasana stimulates your adrenal glands.
The wheel pose is also beneficial for us to keep our spine healthy, strong and long. It helps to maintain a good posture, which is not so common in the modern-day world. Besides lengthening the spine, this pose is great as it lengthens and stretches the chest, hip flexors and legs. Urdhva dhanurasana also increases the capacity of your lungs, thus, allowing us to breathe better. Digestion could be enhanced by practising this pose as well.
Let me share with you some tips so that you can safely and mindfully practise Urdhva Dhanurasana while reaping all the benefits:
- Always try to internally rotate the thighs, and keep your thighs facing each other so that your knees do not spread out to the sides.
- As a solid base is important, do use the power of your quadriceps and calves to lift yourselves up.
- Ground all corners of the feet and palms firmly on the mat. It is important to plant the heels and balls of the feet on the mat.
- Roll your shoulders down and away from the ears.
- Protect your back by keeping your abdomen muscles engaged.
- Draw your elbows in, keeping them in line with the shoulders.
- You may want to start by being comfortable in bridge pose first and preparing yourselves with the puppy pose and bow pose before coming up to the wheel pose.
Lastly, just BREATHE in the pose and enjoy the journey of backbending.
What I’ve learned from this pose is that sometimes, it is alright to let your heart be over your head and never let fear overcome you. Open your hearts and you’ll soon find the joy of being free and empowered.
Celine (April – May 2017 TTC)