Some of us – yogis, who has been practicing yoga for awhile, have asana (s) that we hold dearly in our hearts. Not because we are good at it but also the experiences we get by doing the pose. As for me, it is Wheel Pose – Urdhva Dhanurasana.
Years ago when I was still “inflexible” and “weak”, one day I saw someone doing the pose the first time, I would feel amazed and imagine myself doing the same thing. It was a drop-back and stand-up wheel pose.
I was scared but with the assistance from my sister, I still gave it a try and of course, I failed.
Later on in 2014, I came across a yoga practice that included wheel pose nearly to the end of the practice, I then knew the “how” to go into the pose – to start from the ground. I followed and I got up. It was like a million doubts I had been questioning finally came into realization. Nothing came close to a full wheel that day but I was so inspired to work more on my back.
Above is the picture of me doing the pose during the first year of my practice, there was so many misalignment mistakes I could point out here like:
- Hands, shoulders distance is not hip-width.
- Feet distance, toes and knees are pointing outwards to the side.
- Contraction of the glutes creates a locking effect on the lumbar spine.
- Chest, shoulders was not lifted up creates uneven weight distribution on the lumber spine.
- Drishti point. Gazing towards the tip of the nose. But I was looking up at the sky.
Oh, I wish someone has told me earlier.
But as I moved forwards, I learnt that strength and flexibility exercises (especially with props and wall) could eventually eliminate all these mistakes. In fact, these mistakes were very common across yogis and were mainly caused due to poor shoulders, chest opening, and wrong weight distribution in the lumber spine.
Some of the exercises are:
- Shoulders Opening: Reverse Plank Pose – Purvottanasana, Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana, Extended Puppy Pose – Uttana Shisosana.
- Chest Opening: Camel Pose – Ustrasana, Fish Pose – Matsyasana.
- Thighs Lengthening: Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana.
Most importantly, I also realized that the work on the mind and consciousness can give that extra push I need to go into the pose better. As I go into the pose, I sing myself this mantra:
The mind – “All you need is a little faith in yourself”
The consciousness – “Please listen to your body and feel each and every movement.”
3 years like a blink in an eyes, today going to Wheel Pose for me is still as exciting as the thrill I got the first time doing it. Only this time, I make sure my techniques are right, my alignment is on point, every single movement of the body must be given serious attention. I do not force myself so hard, I take warm-up as long as I can go; I take my drop back and stand up as slow as possible.
I hope this blog post will be an inspiration to all yogis out there who are struggling with Wheel Pose. Do not give up on your practice, if you are frustrated, give it up today but come back to the mat tomorrow.
Keep practicing and all is coming!
Kelin Vu Bich Chau, Doan – 200hr YTTC Weekend.