Urdhva Dhanurasana, also known as Wheel Pose or Upward Bow, is an energizing, strengthening pose that offers a great full-body stretch. It utilizes your shoulders, hips, thighs and spine, resulting in a super energizing and heart-opening pose. Although it seems daunting, and even after achieved leaves room for improvement, there are several poses to help strengthen these muscles and make your backbend stronger. These poses will help ensure that the muscles needed in the backbend are loose and supple; ultimately improving your full wheel. There are my go-to backbend strengthening poses to try practicing a few times a week (or even daily!) to reach your backbend one day soon:
Bridge Pose: Lay on your back and bring your feet up toward your tailbone. Exhale and lift your hips and buttocks into the air. Bring your hands together underneath your pelvis so you are leaving on the tops of your shoulders.
Bow Pose: Lay on your belly with your legs outstretched. Slowly reach both of your hands back while lifting your chest. At the same time bend your knees, lift your legs, and bring your ankles into your hands. The only part of your body touching the floor is your pelvis.
Plank Pose: Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. Bring your torso forward until your shoulders are over your wrists. Press the front of your thighs upward while pressing your tailbone toward the floor. Keep your torso parallel to the floor.
Table Pose: Come to your hands and knees. Have your hands under your shoulders and your knees hip width apart. Press the top of your head frontward and your tailbone backward elongating the spine.
Remember, it's called yoga 'practice' for a reason -- it's always practice, never perfect.
Photo by Mariya Moore