ESSENTIAL YOGA POSTITIONS PART VI
„The body is the bow, asana is the arrow and the soul is the target“ – B.K.S. Iyengar
Today for our ESSENTIAL YOGA POSITION SERIES we are looking into UPWARD FACING BOW or WHEEL POSE – a challenging yet elegant inversion and heart-opening backbend that offers many benefits to your body and mind. Wheel pose it also part of the finishing sequence of the primary ashtanga series and practiced in many yoga classes towards the end.
Even if WHEEL POSE is not in your practice yet, it is definitely a goal to working up to AND there are variations that offer similar benefits which might be more accessible to you. The most important thing, as always: listen to your body! It is good to try something new and to explore new asanas, as it keeps your practice interesting and dynamic but respect and honor your body, embrace your fears and never push yourself too hard.
UPWARD FACING BOW POSE
ऊर्ध्वधनुरासन / Ūrdhvadhanurāsana
चक्रासन / Chakrāsana
1. Start lying on your back, bend your knees. Place your hands next to your head on the mat, with your fingers facing toward your shoulders.
2. Press down all four corners of the feet and palms to have a stable foundation, then taking a deep breath while lifting your hips, reaching your pelvis towards the ceiling. Try to distribute the weight evenly among your hands and feet and stay strong in your shoulders to prevent them from sagging.
3. Straighten your arms as much as you can without forcing and try to avoid letting your legs splay out to the side.
4. Hold this asana for 5 to 10 breaths, then slowly release down back to the mat, vertebra by vertebra, tucking your chin into your chest.
This is a very deep backbend and to help your body to fully benefit from its effects, it’s recommended to first neutralize the spine before coming into forward-bending counter stretches. Try lying on your back with both knees tucked into your chest and gently press your sacrum onto the mat. You can also rock from side to side to release your lower back. If you wish to come into a forward bend afterwards, try seated forward fold.
This asana is excellent for stimulating the blood circulation, to increase back and chest flexibility and to strenghen your back, wrists, spine and arms. It is very therapeutic for people with depression, low levels of energy as it is one of the most powerful MOOD AND ENERGY BOOSTING ASANAS! Our tip: try a wheel position in when that afternoon-low hits you – promised that you will feel refreshed and more energized afterwards!
Beginners can start with BRIDGE POSE (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) that offers many of the heart opening and back strengthening benefits too. If you feel comfortable in wheel pose, you can go for the one legged variation as shown in the picture. This variation adds the additional challenge of balance and requires a lot hamstring and back flexibility
Thank you to our lovely teacher Irina Schumacher for this beautiful picture of her in the elegant and powerful „one legged“ variation of this asana. Don’t miss the chance to join IRINIA for her OPEN UP & SLOW DOWN classes, every THURSDAY from 8 PM to 9.30 PM in ZOLLIKON. To benefit even more from Irinia’s extensive knowledge and experience in a one-on-one setting, book her for a PRIVATE YOGA CLASS!
HAPPY WHEEL PRACTICE from IRINA and the ATHAYOGA Team