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The Yoga Pose Wheel aka Backbend Explained

Strike a Yoga Pose: Wheel

In Ashtanga yoga, right before you go into the closing sequence, you do the Wheel, aka backbend. This is one of my favorite poses because not only does it increase flexibility in your spine, but it also opens up your shoulders and strengthens your upper back and thighs.

Sanskrit Name: Urdhva Dhanurasana
English Translation: Upward Bow Pose
Also Called: Wheel or Full Backbend
Source: Jenny Sugar at Laughing River Yoga Studio

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the ground (heels as close as possible to your booty).
  • Bend your elbows and place your palms flat on the ground above your shoulders, fingertips facing your feet.
  • Inhale, press into your palms and lift your head and shoulders off the ground, placing the crown (top) of your head on the mat.
  • Check to make sure your hands and feet are parallel. You can stay here, getting used to being upside down, or take a deep inhale as you straighten your arms and lift your head off the ground. Once you're fully in the pose, try to walk your hands and feet a little closer together.
  • Stay here for five deep breaths and then slowly lower your body down. Eventually you want to do this pose for a total of three times.
  • Hug your knees into your chest to release your lower back. Then roll up to a sitting position and do a Seated Forward Bend as a counter pose.

Fit's Tips: If you want to try this pose but feel you need a little support then try Wheel pose with an exercise ball.

Join The Conversation
SassAndBide SassAndBide 9 years
lady-t : we had to do this pose for gymnastics as well! i can still do this pose, but it certainly takes practice
sokkar8 sokkar8 9 years
Wow I used to love doing this when I was younger....whoa i just did now and I can barely hold arms were shaking....oh noooo
wren1 wren1 9 years
I do this pose regularly, but I don't think I could do it three times. My arms aren't strong enough.
bizzybee bizzybee 9 years
Am looking forward to when my lower back is strong enough to handle this again.
onesong onesong 9 years
lol i used to be able to do this, and just about died right now when i tried to pop over like i used to. i'm going to have to practice!
cnyc1a cnyc1a 9 years
I love this pose!
windynini windynini 9 years
I use to do this too! I miss elementary... New year resolution: do the "wheel" :)
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
I do this everyday =)
lady-T lady-T 9 years
we used to do this for gymnastics.we called it the crab!
geohiker geohiker 9 years
this is one I aspire to do! I remember being able to just pop this off as a kid; it's hard to get older. :)
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