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.
WRITE A REVIEW
If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! It makes it easier for others to find the podcast. If you don’t know how to leave a review, here are some step by step instructions. Woohoo! So easy!
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:
HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
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!
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.