Upward Bow or Wheel Pose – Urdhva Dhanurasana

Upward Bow or Wheel Pose

Step by step

  1. Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet hips’ width apart, a comfortable distance away from your hips. You want to be able to ground through your feet.
  2. Bend your elbows and place your hands next to your head on the floor, palms open and wide, fingers pointing towards the shoulders.
  3. Press the shoulders down into the floor – feel how that opens and even lifts the chest somewhat. Press your inner feet down to keep your knees from falling out to the sides.
  4. On an inhalation lift only the hips to the ceiling. Stay here for a breath or two.
  5. Inhale, and on your next exhalation pull the feet in towards you. Ground the shoulders actively down into the floor to bring your shoulder blades into the back and – without letting your elbows ‘splay’ out, press into your hands to lift your body up. You can come either onto the crown of the head or straight away up to the ceiling, straightening your arms as much as possible.
  6. Once up there, roll your inner thighs in, lengthen your tailbone, rotate your upper arms outwards, curl your upper back, and let your head hang or tilt your head back a bit to look down to the floor.
  7. Work up to holding the pose for 5-10 breaths.
  8. To come out, exhale and lower yourself down to the floor as you look up to the ceiling, chin to your chest, taking care not to land directly on top of the head.

Tips for beginners

  • To prevent your knees and feet from splaying out once you’re up in the pose, pay particular attention to your inner thighs, engaging them to rotate your thighs inwards, thereby stabilising your knees.
  • Depending on your body structure, you may find that your feet feel more comfortable and grounded pointing slightly outwards. However, try to keep them as comfortably parallel as possible.

Benefits of the Bow or Wheel Pose

  • Strengthens your wrists, arms, shoulders, back and thighs.
  • Opens the shoulders, chest, hip flexors, quadriceps
  • Increases your energy.
  • Creates space in the ribcage and diaphragm helping you breathe fully.

Pay attention to

  • Don’t allow your elbows to collapse outwards once you’re up in the pose.
  • Keep your upper arms rotating outwards, helping to keep your elbows in line with your shoulders.
  • When coming out of the pose, tuck your chin towards your chest, lengthening the neck to gently lower down on the back of your shoulders and head.

Source: Ekhart Yoga
Photography: Harold Pereira