Monday, May 5, 2014

NYY's Pose of the Month: May

Urdhva Dhanurasana: wheel pose

Urdhva Dhanurasana, wheel pose, or upward (urdhva) facing bow (dhanu) is one of the most challenging and rewarding poses for me. When a pose is challenging to us, it’s a good sign that there is something to learn there – some way to grow into it – which is what makes any pose beneficial. As with all the asanas, to come into this pose, you must strike a balance in the opposition between rooting down and rising up. Wheel asks us to use the strength of our hands, feet, arms, legs, and back body to find the sweetness that opens our hearts. On an energetic level, because this pose is an inversion (the heart is above the head), it is energizing. On an emotional and psychological level, this pose teaches us to let go and be vulnerable.

Wheel can be a lot of fun when you’re ready to try variations and transitions. The list is endless but some groovy ones are: lifting legs or arms, lowering the forearms to upward-facing two-foot staff pose (Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana), transitioning into standing (Tadasana), or jumping into handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana). Get creative and use blocks, the wall, or a partner to help you explore what this pose means to you!

As with any pose, I encourage you to find your own way into it. But some tips that I have found helpful, that my great teachers passed on to me, are:

Press evenly into hands and souls of the feet
Inhale to lift on to the crown of the head
Make sure toes and knees face the same direction (a block between the thighs helps!)
Exhale to straighten the arms and lift the crown of the head off the floor
Let the head fall back and the gaze (drishti) be neutral (i.e. don’t strain to look up or down)
Breathe! (3-5 breaths)

Preparatory poses:
Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Cobra (Bhujangasana)
Locust (Salabasana)
Bow (Dhanurasana)
Bridge (Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana)

written by: Sophie Honik

Join her for class at NYY HOT:
Monday: 8:25-9:25am
Thursday: 9:30-11:00am
Saturday: 9:15-10:30am
Sunday: 5:00-6:15pm