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81. Urdhva Dhanurasana
Upward Bow or Wheel Pose
Upward Bow or Wheel Pose
Ah, beautiful urdhva dhanurasana. As the arms and legs press strongly down into the ground like pillars, the entire length of the spine curves into a deep, even arch. It's striking, it's inspiring, and it's...well, everywhere. Walk into nearly any hatha yoga class at any time of day, and you're likely to encounter the pose that is also known as Upward Bow or Wheel Pose.It s easy to feel simultaneously seduced and humiliated by Urdhva Dhanurasana. The pose might evoke a burning desire to achieve and conquer this backbend, but if you're a beginner, you might feel fearful that you won't make it up. And if you re a more experienced student who has pressed up dozens of times, you might find yourself wondering, "Is it still supposed to feel like this? Am I supposed to feel the lower-back twinges, the shoulder soreness, and the occasional after-class sacral aches?
Lie supine on the floor. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your head, forearms relatively perpendicular to the floor, fingers pointing toward your shoulders. Pressing your inner feet actively into the floor, exhale and push your tailbone up toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Take 2 or 3 breaths. Then firmly press the inner hands into the floor and your shoulder blades against the back and lift up onto the crown of your head. Keep your arms parallel. Take 2 or 3 breaths.Press your feet and hands into the floor, tailbone and shoulder blades against your back, and with an exhalation, lift your head off the floor and straighten your arms. Turn the upper thighs slightly inward and firm the outer thighs. Narrow the hip points and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees, lifting the pubis toward the navel.Turn the upper arms outward but keep the weight on the bases of the index fingers. Spread the shoulder blades across the back and let the head hang, or lift it slightly to look down at the floor. Stay in the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 seconds or more, breathing easily. Repeat anywhere from 3 to 10 times
Expands your chest and shoulders.Stretches you hip flexors and core musculature.Stretches your wrist flexor muscles. Strengthens the muscles that control your shoulder blades. Stengthens your gluteus muscles of your hip and hamstrings at the back of your thighs. Strengthens your low back musculature.Relieves some forms of low back pain. Therapeutic for asthma, opening the accessory muscles of breathing.Traditionally thought to stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands, counteract depression and aid in infertility.
Avoide the pose or practicing with care if you suffer from back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, diarrhea, headache, heart problems, and low or high blood pressure. If you have weak wrists, perform the pose with your hands pointing in the opposite direction to your feet. This will reduce the strain on your wrists.
In Urdhva Dhanurasana, the direction of the shoulders shifts to a position of forward or frontal flexion (compared with poses that extend the shoulders away from the back). Thus the shoulder stretch changes here: the muscles that extend the arms are now lengthening. The arch of the torso is raised higher, taking the front of the body into a deeper stretch. The muscles at the front of the pelvis lengthen more because the hips are in greater extension. Firmly extending the elbows and the knees creates subplots to the main story of this pose, deepening it. The hands and feet are fixed to the mat, so the energy of straightening the arms and legs is transferred to the trunk, indirectly extending the back and hips and stretching the front of the body.
Eka Pada Koundinyasana
Setu Banda Sarvangasana
Parirutha Janu Shrishasana
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