Cakrāsana or the wheel pose is also interchangeable known as Ūrdhvadhanurāsana or the Upward facing bow. It is an asana that is a classified backbend and is an important asana in ashtanga and hatha yoga. Mentions of this asana can be found in tantra yoga texts and also in the Srinidhitattva written in the late 19th century. This asana is a beautiful heart-opener and helps the practitioner to The asana enables expansion of the chest cavity, improves lung capacity as physical and physiological benefits. It also enables a complete stretch of the abdominal region and thighs (especially the quadriceps), strengthens the calf muscles. The Chakrasana is also said to create a bridge between the seven chakras along the spinal column and create a continuous flow of consciousness.
Getting to Chakrasana
It can be arrived at from a supine pose like Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana or by lowering back from Tadasana. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds folks. A huge amount of strength is required to lift up into chakrasana and activate the thighs. Seamless integration between the different muscle groups is also very essential. The thigh muscles have to transmit power to the torso and arms and shoulders have to support the legs in this endeavour. It is important to warm up the body sufficiently before attempting Chakrasana. In preparation, one can do sethu bandhasana, inverted table pose, and inverted plank to strengthen the arms and prime the chest and abdomen into a stretch.
How to come up from a supine pose-
- Lie down on your back. Bend the knees to place the feet on the mat with the knees facing the ceiling.
- Bring the heels of your feet close to your sitting bone by about one foot. Keep the feet parallel to each other and maintain hip width gap between the knees. Align the knees and ankles and make sure they are in one straight line.
- Lift your hands and invert them into place near your ears, with fingers pointing towards your shoulder.
- Press your palms down and activating your feet, push upwards.
- Activate your thighs and push into your feet, bringing your weight onto your palms as your abdomen arches upwards. Focus on bending your entire vertebral column evenly.
- Let the head hang loosely and do not stiffen the neck muscles.
- To exit from the posture, gently allow your shoulders to drop down before bringing your back and pelvis on to the floor.
You can hold the final posture for as long as you are comfortable or for a minimum of 8 breaths. To increase the intensity of Chakrasana, lift your heels off the ground and press down through the front of your feet and toes.
- Opens up the chest
- Stretches the back muscles, shoulders and thighs.
- The hip flexors, abdominal muscles and core muscles also get stretched and lengthened.
- It strengthens the calf muscles, quadriceps and the gluteal muscles.
- It greatly improves the flexibility of the spine.
Avoid performing this asana if you have severe back pain especially in the lower back. Also avoid the asana if you have had recent abdominal injury or surgery. Pregnant people and people with high blood pressure must avoid the asana too.
- Marjariasana and bitilasana (Cat-cow stretch)
- Sethu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)
- Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
- Ardha-chakrasana (Standing Backbend)
Follow up asana
- Matsyasana (Fish pose)
- Paschimottanasana (Seated forward-bend)
- Pavanmuktasana (Wind-relieving pose)
- Makarasana- (Crocodile pose)
- Savasana (Corpse pose)
Transcending the physical benefits of Chakrasana
The chakrasana is a posture that can draw ones awareness consciously towards the energy centres along our spine. As the posture demands that the spine be pressed towards the front of the body, it opens up the inner spaces inside us. This in turn allows us to bring our attention to the subtle yet powerful energy in our aural body that corresponds to the spinal column. It is said that if one can find the strength to stay in chakrasana long enough, by breathing meditatively in the pose one can experience themselves as a contained energy field with palpable recognition of the chakras and the intelligence of energy within.
Practice with care
The chakrasana is a powerful posture for physical and spiritual reasons. Take care to warm up all muscle groups and perform the necessary preparatory asanas before commencing on the chakrasana. Use props like yoga blocks to help easy shoulder tension and use a belt or a strap to keep the thighs and knees aligned. Respect your body and know when you are ready to give the asana a try.