Urdhva Dhanurasana, otherwise known as upward facing bow or wheel pose (Chakrasana), is an intermediate/advanced backbend that offers many benefits to the body, mind, and spirit. Here are ten reasons to incorporate wheel pose into your yoga practice.
1. Wheel pose strengthens and lengthens the vertebrae, which increases elasticity and flexibility of the spine. As we age, our spines compress (hence the reason why grandmom lost a few inches later in life). However, many yoga poses, particularly wheel, create the necessary space in the spine to keep young and healthy, and standing tall.
2. Wheel pose strengthens your arms, wrists, abdomen, legs, shoulders and chest, so expect smooth, toned muscles.
3. This pose opens up the chest and strengthens the lungs. Wheel is also instrumental in allowing increased amounts of oxygen into the rib cage. Respiration will undoubtedly improve. Studies have shown that wheel induces therapeutic effects in practitioners with asthma. Remember to breathe deeply while holding the posture.
4. Wheel enhances the nervous system and improves hormone secretions that keep your body in optimal health. The hormonal balance that is attributed to wheel is said to aid in fertility.
5. As you stretch in wheel pose, you remove fat buildup from your oblique area. When practiced regularly, you may notice a slimming effect.
6. Urdhva Dhanurasana loosens tight hips, hence, increased hip flexibility.
7. Wheel Pose energizes you physically and mentally. Yogis believe it counteracts stress, depression and anxiety. This is due to stimulation of the thyroid and pituitary glands when engaged in the posture. You can definitely feel good about practicing wheel!
8. Wheel is a full body pose that can reduce the onset of osteoporosis.
9. Wheel pose is said to ignite all seven of the chakras, keeping all the processes of the body in harmony with each other.
10. Wheel pose is a heart opening backbend. Heart openers are intended to cure any broken hearts from our past, while allowing ourselves new opportunity for love. Backbends require a bit of vulnerability, but you will soon be shining your heart and light to the world.
It is recommended to hold wheel pose for one to three minutes, gradually increasing the time with practice. Don’t fret if you have not incorporated wheel pose into your practice yet, as bridge pose is an earlier stage of the asana that may feel more accessible. Yoga poses, particularly advanced poses, have extreme health benefits but also contraindications. You should perform this pose with extreme caution if you have suffered a back injury, have carpal tunnel syndrome, heart irregularities, headaches, diarrhea or high or low blood pressure.
Pictured is Tara Stiles