Wheel is actually not the pose we are going to be focusing on, but most people think that Urdhva Dhanurasana or Upward Facing Bow Pose is Wheel. In true Wheel Pose, you are holding onto your ankles or calves with both hands in a back bend.
In Upward Facing Bow Pose, your hands are still on the mat, along with your feet. This can be a very challenging posture, and requires a unique balance of strength and openness. Here are my top five exercises for you to practice that will help you build up to this powerful pose.
1. Wall Walks
This is one of the best ways to ease yourself into this pose coming from a standing position. This helps you avoid having to lift yourself up to straight arms, which can be a big block.
- Start standing with your back to a wall, about 2 to 3 feet from the wall.
- Take your feet hip-distance apart, and straighten your arms up above over your head.
- Reach your arms back behind you, pushing your pelvis forward until your hands touch the wall.
- Lean back further, turning your fingers down towards the floor, palms flat on the wall.
- Walk your hands down the wall, bending your arms as needed, continuing to open into your back bend. If you can walk all the way down the wall so that your hands reach the ground, do so. If not, stop where you feel ready to stop.
- Press your hands or your chest firmly into the wall, then walk back up when you are ready to exit the pose.
2. Shoulder Pushups
This is the best posture for building shoulder strength.
- Come into Downward Facing Dog Pose.
- Turn your hands in so that your fingers are pointing in towards the center.
- Now slowly walk your feet in closer to your hands – working to get your hips up above your shoulders as much as possible – shoulders stacked on top of your wrists.
- From here, bend your elbows out to the side, lowering the crown of your head towards the floor.
- Push yourself back up. Do this 10 to 15 times.
3. Dolphin Pushups
In this exercise, you will be really targeting the backs of your arms, which will give you the power to push yourself up into wheel.
- Come into Dolphin posture, which is basically just a Downward Facing Dog Pose on your forearms.
- Keep your elbows shoulder-distance apart, forearms in alignment with your elbows, and palms flat on the mat.
- From here, do your best to extend your arms, lifting your forearms up off of the mat coming up onto just your palms.
- Then, slowly lower back down onto your forearms.
This is a tough one, but stick with it!
This pose is going to give you the shoulder girdle and arm strength which again will help you have the strength to push up into and hold your Upward Facing Bow.
- Focus on really hugging your elbows into your ribs while you are in this pose.
- Be buoyant in your chest, broadening across your collarbones, focusing on lifting your shoulders away from the floor.
- Keep your core fully engaged, tailbone pointing towards your heels.
- Really focus on spreading your fingers as wise as possible and pressing the forefinger and thumb mound of your hand into your mat.
- Hold for as long as you can keep good form.
5. Camel with the Wall
This posture will help you access the muscles you need to engage in order to open your hips and shoulders enough to get into your Upward Facing Bow pose.
- Come kneeling in front of a wall, knees hip-distance apart.
- Tuck your toes behind you.
- Press your thighs and hips strongly into the wall.
- Place your hands on your upper back, with your fingers pointing down towards the floor.
- Inhale deeply and open across the chest.
- Begin to lean your shoulders and chest backwards, pushing your hips into the wall, keeping your head up, chin slightly tucked.
- Stay here keeping this opening, or lean back more until your hands can catch your heels.
- Continue to press your hips strongly into the wall. If you can, you can allow your head to drop back here. Hold as long as you can.
- To come out, do so very slowly; reversing whatever process you took to get to your greatest expression of the pose.
Do you struggle with Upward Facing Bow Pose? How so? Do you feel these exercises will help you out?