How to do Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose or Upward-Facing Bow Pose)

Are you ready to learn how to do urdhva dhanurasana or wheel pose? The purpose of back bending is to stimulate the nervous system, so you can feel energy rising in your body. Then you can learn to make peace with that feeling and integrate that energy into your body. So as you practice this pose, think about energy rising up your spine.

In back bending, it is important that you’re not shortening your back. Instead, you want to engage the muscles of the spine to lengthen and increase the space between the vertebrae. As you attempt upward-facing bow pose think about lengthening and lifting.

Before we get started, let’s look at some of the benefits of wheel pose.

Benefits of urdhva dhanurasana

  • Opens the chest
  • Opens the abdomen
  • Stretches the hips and quads
  • Strengthens the legs
  • Strengthens the shoulders
  • Increases your energy
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Expands the lungs
  • Helps you build mental strength

Contraindications of urdhva dhanurasana

While back bending can be beneficial, not everyone should do them. Here are some contraindications of wheel pose.

  • Back injuries
  • Neck problems
  • Wrist injuries
  • Shoulder problems
  • High blood pressure

How to do urdhva dhanurasana

Lay down on your mat. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor about hip-width apart or even slightly wider. Make sure your knees are tracking over your ankles.

Bring your arms up and place your palms on the floor beneath your shoulders near your ears. It’s important not to have your elbows winging out too wide. Instead, keep them tracking over your wrist. This will help your shoulder blades drop down your back and keep your upper back open for the backbend.

Inhale and shift your hips forward. Activate your pelvic floor and back muscles to lift up onto the crown of your head. Rest the top of your head on the mat. Push your hands and feet into the mat, lifting your torso upward.

Check your shoulder alignment here to make sure your wrists are still in line with your elbows.

If your shoulders are stable, you can lift your body up into the full pose. Press through your hands and feet to lift your head off the ground and your entire torso upward. Straighten your arms. Keep your shoulder girdle open and maintain the space between your shoulders and your ears.

Use your back muscles to lift yourself into a spinal arch. Once you’re up shift your weight, so your chest comes over your hands. This will open your chest and allow you to breathe more easily in the pose.

Gaze between the hands.

Stay here for five breaths. Slowly come out of the pose.

Watch this video with Kino for a better understanding of wheel pose.

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