Urdhva dhanurasana is an asana known in English as wheel pose, although the meaning in Sanskrit is a bit different. Urdhva means “upward”, dhanur means “bow” and asana means “posture”, so the literal translation would be “upward-facing bow pose”.
The wheel posture is usually done towards the end of yoga sequences when the body and spine have warmed up since it is a back-bending asana, that is, an extension of the spine. It is considered a difficult yoga posture, perfect for you if you practice intermediate or advanced yoga because its benefits are gradually noticed when you commit to a yoga routine.
Read this article to learn the main back bending asanas and how to practice them safely to take care of your back. Don’t forget to check with your doctor which poses are suitable for you if you notice discomfort when doing the wheel pose.
If you practice advanced yoga, learn in this article the trivia of 6 difficult yoga positions, including urdhva dhanurasana, to further deepen your practice.
Benefits of Urdhva Dhanurasana
- The wheel pose is an asana with multiple benefits:
- Relieves headaches, because it releases tension in the cervical and neck area.
- It stimulates digestion.
- Tones the pelvic muscles, shoulders, wrists, abdominal muscles, back, arms, legs, and buttocks.
- It opens the chest, and thus helps expand the lungs and makes breathing easier.
- It stimulates the nervous system.
- Gives mental clarity.
It is important that you avoid practicing this asana if you have injuries to your spine, wrists, or shoulders. Remember that you must perform all yoga postures respecting your limits because the important thing in yoga is not to achieve a perfect asana for the photo, but to notice your evolution and follow your personal path.
Tips for doing the wheel pose
- To learn how to practice urdhva dhanurasana follow these steps:
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms stretched out beside your body.
- Bring your feet as close to your buttocks as you can and bring your hands to the sides of your ears.
- From here, lift your glutes and your entire back up with the strength of your legs.
- Press your hands to the ground to now raise your shoulders and head. Rest your crown on the ground.
- Keep applying force to your arms and legs and raise your head by extending your arms.
- Come out of the pose gently, supporting your head first and lowering your back vertebra by vertebra.
Variations of the wheel pose in yoga
Urdhva dhanurasana with stretched legs
From wheel pose, step forward with each foot until both feet are at the end of the mat and legs are straight.
Stability with three support points
From urdhva dhanurasana, raise one arm or one leg. Raise your right arm first, then your left arm, then your right leg, and finally your left leg. Instead of four support points, you will have three support points and you will be able to distribute the weight.
Dhanurasana or the bow pose is a back-bending asana that is performed just the opposite of urdhva dhanurasana, that is, with the belly against the mat. From there, curl your legs up to bring your heel closer to your glutes and grab your insteps with your hands to open your chest. This posture has other variations because you can grab the feet by the ankles, the tops of the feet, or the toes, and you can also grab one foot instead of both.