The Many Benefits of the Wheel Pose in Yoga
The wheel pose also goes by the name of ‘Chakrasana’, which is derived from the combination of two Sanskrit words, ‘chakra’ meaning wheel and ‘asana’ denoting posture.
This pose is also referred to as ‘Urdhva Dhanurasana’ or upward facing bow, and in yoga, parlance is categorized as an intermediate level back-bend.
During the wheel pose, the body assumes a semi-circular posture resembling a wheel, hence the name.
A great asana to strengthen and improve the flexibility of the spine, Chakrasana is regarded as an important yoga posture and is practiced for a host of other reasons as well.
Here are some key wheel pose benefits:
1. One of the most important reasons to incorporate the wheel pose into our daily yoga routine is to improve the elasticity and flexibility of our spine
It is a known fact that our spine begins to compress as we get older.
The wheel pose, however, will help maintain the space between the vertebrae and will ensure a straighter and healthier spine in our vintage years.
A beginner to Chakrasana will feel the tension and rigidity along the spine, but over time and with constant practice, you experience the vitality that is only possible when the flexibility of the spine is restored.
In time, you should be able to do a complete wheel pose and perhaps more advanced poses extending from the wheel pose.
2. The basic action involved in creating the perfect wheel pose strengthens your shoulder, chest, wrists, arms, and legs.
Each step of this pose involves a range of muscles along the body, automatically targeting and building up the muscles along the way.
You realize that your body feels toned and taut mainly due to the following muscles that are exercised and targeted during Chakrasana:
- wrist flexor muscles
- hamstrings at the back of thighs
- muscles along the shoulder blades
- buttocks and glutes
3. Stimulation of the thyroid and pituitary glands.
The wheel pose is considered to be a great energizer due to the effect it has on two key organs in the body, the pituitary and thyroid glands.
These glands play a vital role in maintaining hormonal balance and in combating stress and anxiety
You can achieve optimal functioning of these glands by regular practice of the upward facing bow and prevent or lessen issues related to metabolism and other hormonal imbalances.
4. Wheel pose if great for asthmatics or those with impaired lung function.
This pose expands and strengthens lungs by expanding the chest, thereby allowing greater oxygen levels inside the rib cage.
There is a significant enhancement of respiratory function and is beneficial to individuals who suffer from lung-related ailments such as asthma.
Not only is the chest cavity opened up during this pose, thus allowing more air, the rhythmic breathing exercises the muscles of the lung and ensures sustained performance in advanced age.
5. You can maintain optimal health thanks to a balance in hormone secretions and a positive influence on the nervous system that is attributed to Chakrasana or wheel pose.
It is said that the favorable hormonal balance enhances fertility and can potentially lessen complications related to the reproductive system.
Loosening of tight hips also helps in aiding hip flexibility, which is also linked with a stress-free natural childbirth.
6. Regular practice of the wheel pose can delay the onset of osteoporosis.
This pose involves a wide range of muscles and bones and is fantastic to maintain the suppleness and flexibility of our bones and joints.
Combined with the correct diet and yogic way of life, the wheel pose and associated asanas can considerably slow age-related complications such as loss of bone density and mobility.
7. The practice of Chakrasana or wheel pose is a natural way to reduce unwanted fat around problem areas.
Over time, you begin to perceive a discernible slimming effect.
This is achieved because of the complexity of the pose and the various muscles and body parts involved in achieving the correct pose.
8. One of the biggest advantages among all wheel pose benefits is that it relieves depression and stress.
The individual who practices Chakrasana regularly feels the flow of energy and experiences life’s vitality.
How to do the wheel pose for maximum benefit:
1.Start slow, depending on your fitness levels and flexibility.
2. You can do preparatory asanas and poses such as Bhujangasana and Virasana before trying out Chakrasana
3. Practice this pose on a good mat or blanket to avoid any possible injury to your head and neck.
4. Try the intermediate pose, or bridge pose and test your comfort levels, before graduating to the full-fledged wheel pose.
5. As you gain confidence and are able to properly do the complete wheel pose, you could also try some variations for a greater challenge and improved health benefits.
It is said that the wheel pose is one that ignites all the other seven ‘chakras’, thus creating a balance between the different body processes.
Not only does this pose improve the physical aspect of our body, it also has a positive effect on our mind and emotions.
The act of backward bending lights the fire of fearlessness and triumph over body and spirit.
Some important points to keep in mind while performing the wheel pose:
1. Always practice this asana only when your stomach and bowels are emptied, keep a gap of at least 4 hours after a big meal to allow food to get digested enough.
2. Do not try and do the chakrasana if you are suffering from any injury of the spine.
3. Avoid this asana if you have high blood pressure or are prone to headaches.
4. Do not do this asana if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis in the wrists.
Yoga is best practiced early in the mornings. Poses such as the wheel pose must especially be done at a time that you are relaxed and feeling the most energetic.
Get a learned and knowledgeable yoga teacher or guru who can guide you correctly and help you achieve the correct posture and balance.
Start early in life; the maximum benefits and flexibility are achieved when you begin your yoga practice while still young.
Start today and now! It’s never too late!