Can’t do wheel pose? (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

One day I thought to lift myself into wheel pose, a pose that I still did with ease in my 20’s. To my amazement I could not keep myself lifted at all. I felt a terrible pain in my scapulae and shoulders when I tried to straighten my elbows. I was terrified. I’ve had bad shoulder and scapulae pain for several years now lifting and carrying my children around on my left hip. To work on my flexibility to open the scapulae and shoulders I started using props which proved to be extremely effective.

Besides arm strength there are three main flexibility elements that contribute to your wheel pose: Flexibility of your shoulder and scapulae muscles, flexibility of your abdominals and flexibility of the quadriceps. To come into wheel pose successfully you must master some other easier poses first.

1.       Sit on a large/middle sized gym (swiss) ball and slowly roll your hips forward so your middle back will rest on the ball. Have your bed behind you, reach your hands above your head, and reach for the bed frame. To deepen your stretch roll back to rest your lower back on the ball and reach your arms down straight towards the floor.

2.       You can also use a chair to open your chest and shoulders, stretch your abdominal area. Sit with your legs through the back of the chair and place your feet on the ground. Place two big cushions on the chair. Gently lie down on your back so that your scapulae is placed on the front edge of the seat supported with a cushion. Stretch out the arms above your head and breathe deeply.

3. A good option of opening both the quads and the scapulae, is king pigeon using a strap. To support the pose hook you strap on the back leg and then gently pull yourself into the pose.

4. Flexibility of your quadriceps is also a key element for the wheel pose. A great option for increasing flexibility in the quadriceps is one legged pigeon. For the one legged pigeon place a pillow under your back knee, hold your back leg either with your hand or with a strap.