Wheel pose, known as urdhva dhanurasana in Sanskrit, is an intense backbending posture that strengthens the erector spinae, improving the flexibility, strength, and alignment of the spine for better posture and reduced back pain. The pose also engages the legs and arms for powerful, toned limbs. Because wheel pose engages the pelvic floor, it can also help treat or prevent incontinence in women.
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Wheel pose strengthens the erector spinae, improving the flexibility, strength, and alignment of the spine for better posture and reduced back pain. The pose, in particular, opens the chest to correct hunching shoulders. The leg and arm muscles are the primary movers in the pose. In the legs, wheel pose strengthens the quadriceps and hamstrings. In the arms, it strengthens the triceps.
Because wheel pose engages the pelvic floor, it can help treat or prevent incontinence in women. Yogis like Swami Satyananda Saraswati attribute the pose to more controlled hormonal secretions and relief of the symptoms of gynecological disorders. The intense backbend massages the organs of the nervous, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, and glandular systems.
Do not attempt wheel pose if you:
- have weak wrists
- have a weak back
- are ill
- are pregnant
- are on your period
Always follow a backbend with a forward fold, particularly if you are practicing a backbend as intense as wheel pose. The counterpose stretches the back, gluteal, abdominal, and hamstring muscles to prevent future strain. A seated forward fold, like prostration pose (naman pranamasana) or seated forward bend (paschimottanasana), is the perfect counterpose for wheel.