If you want to be able to do the Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), you will need flexibility and strength in your shoulders, arms, wrists, chest, hips, back, thighs and hips.
That’s really a lot, don’t you think?
It is an advanced yoga pose after all.
But, have no worries! By practicing certain yoga poses consistently, you can actually achieve all of the required strength and flexibility to perform the Wheel Pose.
Attempting the Wheel Pose by brute force to pushing yourself into the pose will put you at risk for injury. So, it is essential to build a solid, proper foundation for your body before attempting this backbend.
Let’s see what are the 7 yoga poses to get you ready for Wheel Pose!
7 Yoga Poses to Prepare You for Wheel Pose
1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward Facing Dog helps to strengthen the arms, shoulders, upper body and legs. This pose also stretches the shoulders, back, hamstrings and calves.
It is essential to build up enough strength and flexibility that will keep your lower back strong and supported when performing any kind of backbends.
How to do the Downward Facing Dog:
- Begin on your hands and knees or a tabletop position.
- On exhale, lift your knees away from the floor. You can keep the knees slightly bent and your heels lifted away from the floor.
- Lengthen your back and lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling. Push your top thighs back and stretch your heels down toward the floor. Press your hands actively into the floor as you slowly straighten your knees but make sure not to lock them.
- Firm your shoulder blades against your back and keep your head between the upper arms (don’t let it hang).
- Hold this pose for 1 minute.
- To release, bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation.
2. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
The low lunge helps to strengthen your thighs, back, shoulders, legs and knees. This pose also releases tension in the hips, stretches the hamstrings and quads, and opens your chest and shoulders.
Most importantly, it improves your balance and increases your core awareness. Having core awareness is crucial when doing wheel pose because it helps to balance and stabilize yourself easier.
How to do the Low Lunge:
- Start in Downward Facing Dog (the previous yoga pose).
- On exhale, step your right foot forward, between your hands. Gently lower your left knee to the ground and slide your left foot back until you feel a nice stretch.
- Make sure to keep the hips low and level with each other.
- On inhale, engage your core and lift your chest away from the thigh. At the same time, sweep the arms up alongside your ears. Gaze straight ahead.
- If you want to deepen the pose, you can come into a gentle backbend with your gaze to your thumbs.
- Hold this for 1 minute.
- To release the pose, lower your hands back down and step back to Downward Facing Dog on exhalation.
- Repeat on the other side.
3. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Bridge Pose strengthens your core, back and lower body. It also stretches the chest, neck, and spine.
Improving your core strength and lower body strength will help support your lower back, and you will feel much lighter when performing the Wheel Pose.
How to do the Bridge Pose:
- Begin Lying down on the floor. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor. Bring your heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.
- On exhale, press your feet and arms actively into the floor, engage your buttocks, and push your hips upward toward the ceiling. Keep your thighs and feet parallel.
- Extend through the arms and clasp the hands below your pelvis. This will help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
- Lift your hips until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees are directly over the heels.
- Hold this pose for 1 minute.
- To release the pose, slowly lower down your spine, one vertebra at a time.
4. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra Pose strengthens the spine and the muscles of the upper body. It also stretches the back, chest, shoulders, and abdomen.
This pose is great for increasing the flexibility of the spine and conditioning your upper body for backbends.
How to do the Cobra Pose:
- Begin by lying down with your stomach facing the floor. Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders and hug the elbows back into your body.
- Press the tops of the feet and thighs actively into the floor.
- On inhale, straighten your arms to lift the chest away from the floor. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Keep your buttocks firm.
- Firm the shoulder blades against the back, lift the chest, and pull your shoulders down and away from the ears.
- Hold this pose for 1 minute.
- To release the pose, slowly lower back onto your stomach.
5. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel Pose is an effective front-body stretch, including the ankles, thighs and groin. It also strengthens the back muscles
This pose is a great way to help your body to adapt and be familiar with the proper positioning for backbends.
How to do the Camel Pose:
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and press your hips forward and upward. Firm your glutes and gently drop your head back.
- Place your hands on the back of your pelvis, on the tops of the buttocks. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. On Inhale, lift your chest by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
- Now lean back against the tail bone and shoulder blades. Hold your heels with your hands. Keep your neck in a neutral position, or drop your head back. Avoid straining your neck.
- Hold this pose for anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- To release, bring your hands onto your hip points. On Inhale, lift your torso up by pushing the hip points downward and toward the floor.
6. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
One of the best yoga poses to prepare you for wheel pose is the Bow Pose. It strengthens the back muscles, improves posture and releases tension in your upper back and neck. It also stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs, groins and hip flexors.
Practicing the Bow Pose consistently will help develop flexibility in your back for backbending. Furthermore, This pose challenges your body to be in a position similar to the Wheel Pose. This means being familiar with the Bow Pose can help you transition into Wheel Pose easier later on.
How to do the Bow Pose:
- Begin by lying on your belly with your hands at the side of your body, palms facing up.
- On exhale, bend your knees and bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks. Reach back with your hands to grip your ankles. Make sure your knees are hip-width apart when performing this pose.
- On inhale, strongly lift your heels away from your buttocks until your thighs are lifted away from the floor. At the same time, lift your upper torso and head off the floor. Keep your back muscles soft.
- Press your shoulder blades firmly against your back to open your chest. Keep your gaze forward and drop the tops of the shoulders away from your ears.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds. Be sure to keep breathing.
- To release, slowly lower your chest and thighs back to the mat on exhale. You can repeat the pose once more.
7. Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
Dolphin Pose builds core and strengthens the arms and legs. This pose also lengthens the spine and stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and upper back.
How to do the Dolphine Pose:
- Begin on your hands and knees. Firmly press your palms together, but keeping your forearms into the floor.
- On exhale, lift your knees away from the floor. Bring your hips towards the ceiling. Straighten your legs but don’t lock your knees.
- Press the forearms actively into the floor all the time. Hold your head between the upper arms (don’t let it hang). Keep your spine straight and long.
- Press your heels toward the floor to feel a deeper stretch in the back of the legs.
- Hold this pose between 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- To release, slowly let your knees down to the floor on an exhalation.
Preparation of the Wheel Yoga Pose
The Wheel Pose has plenty of benefits for your body, but to do this pose, you need to build sufficient flexibility and strength. Keep practicing this list of yoga poses and you will definitely be prepared for the Wheel Pose!
Gradually, you will also develop core awareness and proper alignment, which is the key to this pose and other advanced yoga poses too!
Be patient with yourself as the Wheel Pose is an excellent opportunity to truly explore your body capabilities and limitations.
Have you tried any of these yoga poses yet? Let us know in the comments about how they helped you with Wheel Pose. The good news is that these yoga poses will at least give you instant relief from aches or sitting at work all day!