We recently checked in with our February yogi of the month, Sameer Khosla, to learn a little about his experience with the pose of the month, Urdhva Danurasana (Upward Facing Bow –also commonly called “wheel”).
“When first asked if I could bring myself up into wheel pose for a picture, I said “Sure, I know how to do wheel.”
Prior to delving into the nuances of the pose, and the process of fine-tuning it day by day, wheel was indeed familiar to me, but something I rarely practiced (and had never approached structurally). My impression was that I could do it easily and I could do it the right way.
I was wrong!
Over the course of February, I came to really appreciate wheel. Not only because I learned more about the elements that make up the correct form of the pose, but also because practicing it consistently helped me learn more about myself.
Throughout the month, we focused on building strength across the chest and in the shoulders. I didn’t know this before, but to do the pose properly, you must prevent both your elbows and knees from flailing out. Elbows are meant to move in line with shoulders, and knees in line with hips, both as equidistant as possible through liftoff down to landing.
Editor/Teacher’s note: Check out Sameer’s awesome conscious control of knee + elbow alignment throughout liftoff and landing! Way to keep the focus, Sameer!
I struggled with this aspect at first. I needed to strengthen the little stabilizing muscles in my shoulders and upper back. Fortunately, our teachers were creative in coming up with exercises that helped us strengthen our shoulders and connect to them mentally so that we’d know how to engage them when we needed to.
Unexpectedly, keeping these ideas in mind actually helped me further explore chaturanga and upward dog and find more depth in other poses where I could use this new found strength and control. My one-month foray into wheel taught me that the stretch across my chest, abdominals, back, and spine was much more rewarding when I used my shoulders and hips to really press and reach high up into wheel and stay centered.
I seem to hold a lot of stress in my back. But now, by doing the pose accurately (using the most efficient actions), I’m able to reap far greater relief from the pose. This is exactly what I love most about this structural yoga approach that Yoga 216’s classes are grounded in. It’s a constant learning process that always leaves both my mind and body feeling more balanced by the time I walk out of class.
Maintaining discipline and being open to the idea that there’s always more you can learn, even when you think you may know it all, is an invaluable lesson both in yoga and in life.”
We couldn’t agree more, Sameer! Namaste!