The Wheel Pose, also known as Chakrasana, is a powerful and invigorating advanced yoga pose that demands strength, flexibility, and balance. This pose is a part of the traditional Hatha yoga and is often incorporated into Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga sequences. It starts from a supine position and involves lifting the body off the floor with the help of the hands and feet, forming a full arch with the back.
The Wheel Pose is a deep backbend that opens up the chest, shoulders, and hip flexors, while also strengthening the arms, legs, and spine. It is a pose that energizes the body and mind, and is said to stimulate the chakras or energy centers in the body, hence its name.
However, due to its complexity and the level of flexibility and strength required, it’s crucial to practice this pose under the supervision of a qualified yoga instructor. Proper alignment and technique are essential to perform the Wheel Pose safely and effectively, and to avoid potential injuries.
|Sanskrit Name and Pronunciation||Chakrasana (chah-krah-sah-nah)|
|Pose Type||Backbend, Heart Opener, Chest Opener|
How to Do the Wheel Pose
- Start in a supine position, lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be hip distance apart and close to your buttocks.
- Place your hands on the floor beside your head, with your fingers pointing towards your shoulders. Your palms should be flat on the floor and your elbows pointing upwards.
- Press into your palms and feet to lift your hips and chest off the floor. Keep your thighs and feet parallel to each other.
- Straighten your arms and legs as much as possible, lifting your chest towards the ceiling and pushing your thighs upwards. Your body should form an arch, similar to a wheel.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths, keeping your head in a neutral position and your gaze towards the ceiling.
- To exit the pose, bend your elbows and knees and slowly lower your body back to the floor.
- Take a few deep breaths in this position before repeating the pose if desired.
|Upper Body:||Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major, Serratus Anterior|
|Core:||Rectus Abdominis, Obliques|
|Back:||Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids|
|Glutes:||Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus|
|Legs:||Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves, Adductors|
While there are many research-backed mental and physical benefits of yoga, there are few — if any — official studies on the wheel pose. However, it’s generally believed that practicing the wheel pose provides several health benefits.
The Wheel pose requires a combination of shoulders, chest, and hip flexibility and the ability to extend the spine into a deep backbend. Practicing this pose can help increase flexibility in these areas over time.
The Wheel pose requires a significant amount of upper body and core strength to hold the pose. Practicing this pose can help build strength in the arms, shoulders, and core muscles.
The Wheel pose involves balancing on the hands and feet, which can help improve balance and coordination.
Opens the Chest and Shoulders
The backbend aspect of this pose helps to open the chest and shoulders, which can help improve posture and breathing.
The Wheel pose requires focus, balance, and strength, which can help calm the mind and promote relaxation.
Stimulates the Nervous System
The Wheel pose stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands, which can help balance the nervous system and hormones.
Drawbacks and Risks
The Wheel Pose, also known as Chakrasana, is a challenging backbend that requires strength, flexibility, and balance. It’s crucial to practice this pose under the guidance of a qualified instructor, as improper alignment and technique can lead to injury.
Potential risks of the Wheel Pose include potential injuries to the:
Spine. The Wheel Pose involves a deep backbend that can put a lot of pressure on the spine, particularly the lower back. If not performed with proper alignment, there is a risk of straining or injuring the spinal muscles or discs.
Wrists. The Wheel Pose requires you to support your body weight on your hands, which can put a lot of strain on the wrists. If not performed with proper alignment, there is a risk of wrist strain or injury.
Shoulders. The Wheel Pose requires significant strength and stability in the shoulders. If the shoulders are not strong enough or not aligned properly, there is a risk of injury to the shoulder muscles or the shoulder joint itself.
Neck. The Wheel Pose can put strain on the neck if the head is not aligned properly. It’s important to keep the neck in a neutral position and avoid hyperextending or straining the neck muscles.
Knees. The Wheel Pose involves bending the knees and lifting the body off the ground. If the knees are not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joint.
If you experience discomfort or pain while practicing this pose, stop immediately, modify it, or come out of it. It’s also important to warm up properly before attempting this pose and gradually build up to its full expression.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when practicing the Wheel pose.
- Not Warming Up. Similar to the Wild Thing pose, it’s crucial to warm up before attempting the Wheel pose. This can include yoga practices such as sun salutations, bridge pose, and other poses that help warm the shoulders, back, and core muscles.
- Arching the Lower Back. The Wheel pose is a deep backbend that can put a strain on the lower back if not performed with proper alignment. It’s important to keep the core engaged and the lower back extended rather than arched, to avoid strain on the lower back.
- Hyperextending the Wrists and Elbows. The Wheel pose involves balancing on both hands, which can put a strain on the wrist and elbow joints if not performed with proper alignment. It’s important to keep the wrists and elbows neutral and avoid hyperextending the joints.
- Misaligning the Knees. The Wheel pose involves lifting the body off the ground using the strength of the legs. If the knees are not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joints. The knees should be hip-width apart and parallel to each other.
- Not Using Props. If you’re new to the Wheel pose or have limited flexibility or strength, it can be helpful to use props such as blocks or straps to support the body and help you find proper alignment.
- Ignoring Breath. Breath is an essential part of yoga, and ignoring it can lead to strain or discomfort. In the Wheel pose, ensure you’re breathing deeply and evenly, using the breath to guide your movement and deepen the pose.
Modifications and Variations
If you’re new to the Wheel Pose or have limited flexibility or strength, several modifications can help you build up to the full expression of the pose. Here are some modifications to try:
If you’re having trouble lifting your body off the ground or reaching your feet, you can use props such as blocks or blankets to support your body and help you find proper alignment. Place the blocks or blankets under your hands or feet to help lift your body off the ground.
Practice on Your Knees
If you have trouble holding the Wheel Pose, you can try practicing on your knees. Start by sitting on your heels, then place your hands on the ground behind you and lift your hips, creating a bridge-like shape with your body. This modification can help you build strength and stability in the pose.
Practice with a Wall
If you’re having trouble finding balance in the Wheel Pose, try practicing with a wall for support. Stand with your back to the wall and slowly bend backwards until your hands reach the wall. Then, walk your hands down the wall as you lift your hips and chest. This modification can help you find stability and build confidence in the pose.
Practice the Bridge Pose
This pose can help stretch and strengthen the back muscles, preparing you for the Wheel Pose. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the floor, pressing your feet and arms into the floor. Hold for a few breaths, then lower your hips back down. Repeat a few times to build strength and flexibility.