I used to hate the
Now I love wheel pose. I never had a genetically bendy back (yes, some of us have smaller joints in the spine that bend more easily)
On top of this, according to my surf GPS watch, I paddle 4-5 km per day on my surfboard for my shoulders and chest are tight.
I am seeing so many students doing wheel pose like case one in this video. I used to do it this way too. It was a struggle
Like everything in life, there is a trick to the trade. I learned how to set my feet and hands in a smarter way and it made all the difference
I’m still seeing the majority of students do the yoga wheel pose the case one way, so I was inspired to make this reel.
The key to the wheel pose
I’ve taught over 300,000 people yoga in my lifetime, and I’ve watched at least a third of them struggle with wheel pose. The key is that even though we call it a “back-bend” it requires a LOT of opening in the muscles and fascia of the front body.
In our last video, I shared tips about hand placement, foot placement and using the tippy toes. Here I want to share a drill that will take all compression out of the lower back while allowing you to increase the range of motion in the quads, the hip flexors, the abdominals, the lats, and pecs. If these tissues are tight and don’t allow a proper hip extension or shoulder flexion, the load becomes super-concentrated in the lower back and shows up as a nasty, crunching sensation.
In this drill, we elevate the feet which, as I will explain in the next video spreads the load over the joints of the spine rather than concentrating them on just a few.
Key tips for the yoga wheel pose
USE BENCH OR BLOCKS
This bench may be a little high for some of us. Sometimes putting two blocks against a wall can be the perfect height. One key safety tip is that whether you use a bench or a block you must put it against the wall otherwise the pressure on your feet will make it slide and you will fall.
GETTING INTO THE POSE:
The setup is key, the hands can go roughly under the shoulders or beside the ears, when you press up create DRIVE OFF OF YOUR FEET and send the CHEST THROUGH THE ARMS. This will feel incredible for the muscles of your front body and your back will thank you.
GETTING OUT OF THE POSE:
Coming down requires that you bring the chin into the chest, then slowly lower the weight onto the shoulders. Do not come straight down on the crown of the head or things get very ugly quickly.
How to take the pressure of your lower back
In the last video, I was showing a drill that is essential for people who struggle with the yoga wheel pose (incidentally, 76% of the people who responded to the poll said that they have a hard time with this pose.)
In this video we look less at HOW elevating the feet helps decompress the spine and turn to the WHY.
The key point is that if you elongate the curve of the body, the spine will have more space and be much less compressed.
Have a look at the demo using a strap (representing the tissues of the front body) and the blocks (representing the vertebrae of the spine.) it was filmed at last month’s Bali Blissology training. I think it will make sense to you.
Incidentally, one key mistake people make in any “backbend” is to think that the sensation of compression in the lower back is what people are looking for. In fact, it is a sensation of STRECH in the front body that we want.
What to remember
Remember, if the front body chain is too tight, the lower back gets pinched.
Lastly, keep in mind that as we make our bodies more open in yoga, we need to be wise.
If we can practice sustainable yoga in our bodies, we will be more sustainable for the planet 🌎
I hope this helps, I want you to crush the pose and not your lower back, do this one often, and please report back with questions or stories of your progress.
Our next Yoga Teacher Training in Bali
If you have contemplating becoming a yoga teacher, then you are welcome to join our next in person Training in November in Bali.