Wheel Pose

Wheel Pose or Chakrasana may very well be the grand-daddy of all backbends!This backbend pose is not to be taken lightly. Most yoga students will discover this posture to be quite challenging, it’s certainly not for beginner students. As a matter of fact, Wheel Pose must be approached with caution as improper alignment or a lack of the needed strength can result in injury.Wheel Pose is a part of the finishing sequence in the Ashtanga Primary Series. Because the pose requires a warm and flexible spine, it’s normally practiced near the end of class. Wheel Pose should also be practiced with the help of an instructor if the posture is a new addition to your practice.Urdhva Dhanurasana or Chakrasana is the Sanskrit name for this posture. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, “Urdhva” meaning “Upward”, “Dhanu” meaning “Bow”, “Asana” meaning “Pose” along with “Chakra” meaning “Wheel”. Naturally, its very common to hear this pose referred to as Wheel Pose or Upward Bow Pose.Its easy to be impressed by the many photos of yogis performing very deep versions of this posture. However, its critical to remember that the deepest versions of Chakrasana aren’t needed to benefit from the posture. In fact, forcing yourself deep into this pose will usually present dangers.The benefits of Chakrasana are numerous and include increasing spine flexibility, strengthening the arms, back and legs, plus offering a great chest or heart opening. Once mastered, the posture will also provide a neat change of view and provide a little fun!


Benefits Of The Pose:

Naturally, Wheel Pose dishes out all the standard backbend benefits, but it also goes a bit further by offering some additional benefits. Because Chakrasana is more challenging than your average backbend posture, it will present the chance to build strength in various body parts and improve spine flexibility. This posture also offers a little adventure as it will take you upside down and change your perspective. The pose will also stimulate your Heart and Throat Chakra.

Wheel Pose certainly helps to improve and advance your spine flexibility, especially the deep versions of the posture. As all yogis will tell you, “A Flexible Spine Is A Healthy Spine”. Spine and hip flexibility will also improve your mobility in everyday activities and make injuries less likely.

This backbend will also go to great lengths to strengthen your arms, shoulders, legs, back and wrists. Lifting into Wheel Pose is no easy task for many students and will require improving your upper body strength. Many of you will also be happy to know that this posture can also help to strengthen and tone the glutes or buttocks.

As a heart opener, this pose can help to balance or stimulate the Heart Chakra or 4th Chakra. The Heart Chakra is believed to help control our ability to love, our emotions and inner peace. The Throat Chakra also benefits from this posture, this chakra helps our verbal expression and can aid us in speaking our voice and expressing truth.

Primary Benefits:

Strengthens Arms

Strengthens Wrists

Strengthens The Back

Stretches The Chest

Increases Spine Flexibility


Follow up Poses:

Good preparatory poses for Wheel Pose would include a variety of less demanding backbends. These poses would include Camel Pose, Bridge Pose, Upward Facing Dog Pose and Cobra Pose.

Follow up poses would naturally involve forward folds or bends to counter balance the backbend. Some examples would be Standing Forward Bend Pose and Seated Forward Fold Pose. Other postures that stretch the hamstrings can also be a nice follow up to Chakrasana.


Modifications & Cautions:

Avoid this posture if you are suffering from a back, shoulder, arm or wrist injury. Make sure to fully heal before heading back to your practice.

Wheel Pose is also a good posture to skip if you have a headache, high or low blood pressure or stomach issues such as diarrhea.

Modifications include a variety of ways to make this pose more challenging or a little easier.

To make Wheel more accessible, place two blocks against the wall, place one block under each hand, this will help less flexible students who may struggle to reach the floor.

Make the pose deeper by lifting your heels off the floor and then walk your hands and feet closer together.

Many students also add some difficulty to Wheel Pose by lifting one foot off the floor and raising it toward the sky. This variation would be called Eka Pada Chakrasana.


Major Tips:

As mentioned earlier, Wheel Pose is no joke! Take your time and don’t force the posture, this pose requires strength and flexibility.

Spend adequate time practicing the preparatory postures before trying Wheel Pose.

As a newbie to this pose, only attempt the pose in the presence of an instructor.

Use a strap around the arms or elbows to help stop them from spreading apart during the pose.

Rest between attempts of the pose, this posture can and will create fatigue very quickly.

Keep your elbows and knees inward toward your body center and keep lifting your torso upward and lengthening.

Keep your feet parallel toward one another and in alignment with your hips.



Step-By-Step Instructions:

We will begin in Savasana Pose with your hands resting by your side.

Place your feet on the ground by bending your knees, make sure to keep your feet parallel to one another and align them with your hips.

Lift your arms and hands upward, bend the elbows and then place your palms flat on the floor beside your head.

Your arms should remain parallel and your finger-tips should be just along your shoulders.

When ready, slowly press your hands into the floor and begin to lift your hips, torso and shoulders off the mat, don’t allow your arms to splay.

Engage your core and glutes to help support the pose and back.

Gently place the top of your head on the mat, but don’t rest your full weight on your head or neck.

Take a few breaths and stop here if you’re not ready to proceed with the posture.

If ready, on an exhale try to straighten your arms and lift your head off the mat, allow your chest to reach toward the wall behind your head.

Remember to keep your feet and elbows from spreading apart from one another. Keep lifting the torso upward and opening the chest.

Allow the head to hang with no tension.

Exit the pose by gently placing the head back on the ground and then drop the rest of your body on to the mat.

Give yourself an adequate rest before trying again or moving on to your next posture.