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Episode 62: The Bonus Ep in Which We Answer Your Summer Series Questions

Hi everyone!

On this special bonus episode, Jason and I answer your questions that came up during the summer series. Thanks, as always, for sending in your questions. It helps us plan episodes!

We talk about why the cue to keep the feet parallel in Wheel Pose came about (and is it really necessary?), I offer some help for hurting knees, ideas for strengthening the “pull muscles,” and Locust Pose alternatives during pregnancy.

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The Mother of All Backbends: Urdhva Dhanurasana
The Surprising Way to Deepen Your Backbends
Episode 23: Fun with Shoulder Anatomy
Episode 43: Sacroiliac Pain, Tailbone Cues, & Wonky Knees
Episode 54: What’s Missing From Your Hip-Focused Practices

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The Mother of All Backbends: Urdhva Dhanurasana

Urdhva Dhanurasana

There are 3 ways to use this blog:
1. You can simply practice Urdhva Dhanurasana using the illustration above.
2. You can learn the steps get into the posture in the “How To” section.
3. Or you can geek out on the sequencing and anatomy details by skipping down to Part II.

Don’t forget to pass this along to your students and colleagues!

If you want to learn more, join me live at my 500-hour Certification Program or join me online for my Sequencing and Anatomy E-Courses.


Urdvha Dhanurasana is such an iconic pose, teachers around the world simply call it “backbend.” There’s no other posture like this. If your teacher said “OK everyone: arm balance,” would you have any idea which pose to do? No. What if they said, “OK everyone: twist,” or, “standing pose,” “forward bend,?” Nope.

Upward Bow represents an entire posture group—and is so ubiquitous in all current traditions of yoga—because it’s so thorough. It stretches the quads, hip-flexors, abdominals, and shoulders while strengthening the entire back body. The postures also engenders a debate about whether or not students should engage the gluteals. Here’s my take on the discussion:

Continue reading Read More > >

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Essential Sequence: Ease into Urdhva Dhanurasana

Urdhva Dhanurasana, aka Upward-Bow or Wheel Pose or simply “Backbend,” is an iconic pose in the yoga canon. Visually it represents the acrobatic flexibility that so many of us long for when we first begin the yoga practice. But too often the feeling of the pose doesn’t match that open, soaring look.

My first piece of advice when practicing Urdhva Dhanurasana is to focus on creating even sensations throughout your whole body when you do the pose. Instead of focusing on going deep, focus on creating evenness. When you practice this way, not only will the pose feel a whole lot better, you’ll be more apt to open the places that need it and derive the overall benefits of backbending! (An added benefit is that you potentially head off injuries because you’re not pushing past your edge).

This month’s sequence prepares you for Wheel Pose by opening the shoulders and upper back as well as the front sheath of the body — specifically the quadriceps and hip flexors. It also builds heat in the whole body. All of this should help you feel more ease, more space, more joy in your backbend.

There’s so much more to say about sequencing for backbends. If you want to find out more, I encourage you to check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. And, as always, please sign up for my mailing list if you want to get a monthly reminder when new sequences go up. Have fun practicing!

Quick side note: In the interest of keeping the sequence as easy-to-read as possible, we’ve chosen to write the poses out in English instead of Sanskrit this month.
30-Minute Wheel Pose Sequence
Download PDF

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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