Wheel you be mine?

My inner critic tells me: In the pose above – my alignment is clearly wrong. My feet are splayed out to the side, when my feet should be parallel and my thighs should be firmed – this is to avoid straining my lower back. These little nuances in alignment (or rather, misalignment), I did not even realise, until in retrospect.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Lao Tzu

Yoga classes at general yoga studios are limited by time, and thus cannot correct every student’s alignment. I am grateful for the many loving and dedicated yoga teachers who have inspired my love for yoga. However, it is only at teacher’s training that I have gained a deeper understanding of alignment and adjustment, which to me, is foundational to yoga.
Urdhva Dhanurasana, otherwise known as upward facing bow or Wheel pose, is one of my favourite poses. The first time I managed to lift off from a bridge pose, I still remember an unadulterated rush of endorphins – there is always so little pain and so much exhilaration each time I do the wheel pose. As it is a heart opening backbend, I feel that each time I do this pose, it allows me to be in a space of vulnerability, love and forgiveness – values that I stand by in my life.
People who are suffering from back injury, have carpal tunnel syndrome, heart irregularities, headaches, diarrhea or high or low blood pressure.
Warm-up poses:

  1. Camel Pose
  2. Bridge Pose

Steps to get into Wheel pose:

  1. Lie on your back. Get into bridge pose – with bent knees and feet on the floor, heels as close to the hips as possible.
  2. EX Press your inner feet firmly into the floor, exhale and lift your tailbone up. Firm the buttocks and thighs, remember to keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Keep your arms parallel as well.
  3. IN Press your feet and hands into the floor.
  4. EX Lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees, lifting the pubis toward the navel.
  5. Let the head hang, or lift it slightly to look down at the floor.
  6. Hold the pose for 5-10 seconds.

Modifications and Propos:
Support your hands on a pair of blocks (if your armpits or hips are tight).
Deepen the pose:
To increase the depth of the backbend, peel your heels gently away from the floor and walk the feet a little closer to the hands. Press the heels into the floor again.


Clara (200hr YTT Hatha/Ashtanga, Jul/Aug 2015)

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