It’s Day 4 of the Instagram Challenge, and today we are doing Wheel Pose or Urdhva Dhanurasana.  I decided to take it to the park since it is so beautiful outside.  I did this pose without a mat to really get in touch with the ground and nature. It felt awesome until I broke out in a rash.  Yoga cures many things, but not allergies.

wheel poseThis was a difficult pose for me for a long time, and it has only became part of my practice in the last 2 months.  I still see some improvements I can make in my alignment (wrists closer to underneath the shoulders), but I am amazed to see how far I have come.

I like to warm up with a few Bridge poses before attempting Wheel.  The motion of tucking your shoulders under your body to open the chest in Bridge will prove helpful, if not necessary, for getting up in to Wheel.  If the upper body strength isn’t there to push up into this back bend, keep trying.  I found that I spent many yoga classes pressing into the ground without moving an inch, then I was able to get onto the crown of my head, then I was able to lift my head slightly, then one day I found myself doing the pose.   Practicing Upward Plank can help build upper body strength and help you open up the front side of the body…two things you need to do Wheel.

Beginner precautions:

Your neck hurts!:  A lot of cervical extension is required here so if you aren’t used to bending your neck that far back, you may experience discomfort.  As always, be careful with your body, and know that pushing through pain doesn’t win you any awards (unless you consider injuries awards!) I have seen students keep their neck straight instead of letting it drop all the way back to prevent neck strain with a lot of success.  When coming out of Wheel, drop down gently with control, and tuck the chin so you land on your shoulders.  If you crash on top of your head, it can compress the vertebrae and cause serious neck injury.

Back pain?:  If you have low back pain before even beginning this pose, consider sticking to Bridge pose for the time being.  If your back hurts while in the pose, make sure your knees aren’t splaying out which can compress the low back.