by Jay Hiller, August 5, 2022
No matter what you call it–chakrasana, urdhva dhanurasana, or wheel–there are all kinds of factors that make today’s featured pose one worth practicing. It activates all seven chakras and provides a strong counter to all the forward-forward-forward of modern life as well as to the general emphasis on flexion in yoga. My favorite way to do wheel is to roll up a yoga blanket into a burrito, place it against a wall and hold it rather than placing my hands flat on the floor. This gives me space in my tight wrists and forearms to get into the pose. There are many variations on this pose–hands on blocks, feet on blocks, legs wide, feet turned out and up on toes as the model in the photograph above demonstrates. There’s more than one way to use a folding chair to get into wheel. With so many acceptable variations, there is, however, at least one instruction you can ignore.
That instruction is to use your quadriceps to extend your hips and deemphasize the role of the glutes and the hamstrings. This is not a helpful instruction and unfortunately one that you still hear in group yoga classes sometimes. The reason that I advise against this is that the main extenders for your hips are your glutes and hamstrings and your quadriceps are really only meant to help. That is, they’re synergistic muscles for hip extension. You’ll get a more meaningful expression of wheel pose if you use the muscles that were designed to extend your hips to get into it. Don’t take my word for it. Try it both ways and if you like, tell me what you think.