Wheel is one of my absolute favorite yoga postures. It’s at the same time playful and powerful. It also transports me back to when I used to take gymnastics–ah, the good old days of effortless flexibility! Wheel is both a back bend and chest opener, great for relieving tension in the upper back, shoulders, and hip flexors. It also strengthens all of the body’s major muscles groups, firing up you quads, hamstrings, glutes, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and the list goes on!
To get into wheel, lay flat on your back, feet planted on your mat hip-width apart. You should be able to graze your heels with your fingertips. This is the same set up you would use if you were pushing up into bridge.
Reach your hands up and overhead, planting palms flat next to your ears, fingertips facing toward your shoulders. Pull your elbows in toward your center line, tuck your tailbone, and on an inhalation press up through your hands and feet. If you’re just starting out, you can come to an intermediary position by resting on the crown of your head before pressing all the way up into full wheel. When taking this variation, be sure to support your weight with your palms and arms rather than your head and neck.
In full wheel, your arms will be straight, head heavy, and legs fully engaged. Keep your knees drawing together, thighs spiraling inwards, no splaying of the knees. As your shoulders, chest, and hip flexors open up, work to press your chest through your arms. You can also begin to play with coming up on the balls of your feet and lifting one leg at a time for some added intensity.
Once you’ve taken 5 to 8 deep breaths, tuck your chin and gently come down, one vertebrae at a time. Once down, resist the temptation to draw your knees into your chest. Repeat this another 2 or 3 times, then lay on the mat in reclining butterfly.
Enjoy this asana, letting yourself be free, open and strong!