Wheel Pose with Variations
Wheel Pose or chakra-asnana is more challenging than most other yoga postures, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t accomplish this right away. This pose builds strength and restores suppleness in the spine, while strengthening the shoulders, backs, and arms.
A great place to start is flat on your back. Bring your palms by your ears with fingers spread wide and pointing away from your shoulders. Root down through the soles of the feet, keeping the toes pointing straight ahead. On an inhale begin lift the back, butt, off the mat, and bringing just the crown of the head to the mat. Find a place of strength and stillness, and only when you are ready, extend out through the arms and legs while raising the hips and stomach as high as possible. Keep the knees and elbows hugging in towards the midline, and remember to breath. If you need to come out of the pose at any time, lower make down to the mat nice and slow keeping length in the next.
An add challenge for this pose would be to lift one foot up into the sky at a time. If a straight leg is daunting, maybe just try lifting a bent knee and keep the foot flexed. Using the breath to inhale and left one foot, and exhale to bring it back down to the earth. Inhale switching sides and lifting the opposite foot, exhale bringing it back down to the mat.
To deepen the shoulder stretch you can press the ground down and away from you to flatten out the line the legs are forms. Remember to stay strong in the forearms, and engage the biceps. Each inhale lifts the front of the body closer to the sky, and each exhale roots you down through the palms and heels.