Friday, September 10, 2010
Yoga Pose of the Week- 9/10/10 Wheel
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow or Full Wheel Pose)
* Expands chest and shoulders
* Stretches hip flexors and core musculature
* Stretches wrist flexor muscles
* Strengthens muscles that control the shoulder blades
* Strengthens gluteus muscles of the hip and hamstrings at the back of the thigh
* Strengthens low back musculature
* Relieves some forms of low back pain
* Therapeutic for asthma, opening accessory muscles of breathing
* Traditionally thought to stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands, counteract depression, and aid in infertility.
* Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or tendonitis of the wrist
* Low Back pain aggravated by extension
* Shoulder impingement
* High Blood pressure
(OORD-vah don-your -AHS-anna)
urdhva = upward
dhanu = bow
1. Lie on your back with the soles of the feet on the floor, close to the sitting bones, feet hip width apart and parallel to the sides of the mat. Place your hands on the floor just above your shoulders with fingers spread wide, finger tips pointing towards the shoulders.
2. Take a moment to set your foundation. Root all four corners of the feet evenly. Activate the inner thighs so that they are energetically moving towards each other, but remain hip width distance. Send the arms bones (humerus) into their sockets so that you feel the shoulder blades come on to your back. The elbows are energetically moving towards one another but remain shoulder width distance.
3. Press evenly into the feet and lift your hips and lower back off the mat, coming into a baby bridge. Pause. Press into the palms evenly and lift your upper torso off the mat, bringing the crown of your head to lightly touch on the mat.
4. Reset your foundation (inner thighs and inner upper arms drawing towards each other, firmly rooting hands and feet) and press into the palms once again to straighten the arms and lift the head off the floor.
5. Let the neck be long, relaxing with gravity. Breathe.
6. To come out of the pose, slowly begin to bend the arms and legs, tuck the chin towards the chest, and lower the spine to the earth.
* The most common deviation from our foundation is the feet turning outward as we lift up into the full version of the pose. Ensure the sides of your feet are parallel, which may even feel a little pigeon toed. You may also use a prop (below) to ensure your feet stay parallel.
* Similarly, the elbows like to wing out to the sides as we attempt to recruit more strength to lift up into the full version. The strength actually comes from the engagement of the shoulder blades on the back, with elbows isometrically drawing towards one another. You may use a prop (below) to aid in this sensation.
* As you transition from baby bridge to the crown of the head, do not put a lot of weight on the head itself. It is merely a balance point and you should not feel compression in the neck or skull.
* Using Props:
To keep feet parallel: If your proportions match the width of a block, you can place a block the long way between the inner soles of your feet, pressing the edge of the big toe as well as the edge of the inner heel into the block to keep awareness to parallel feet. Be sure that the block is wide enough to keep you at least hip width distance with the feet.
To keep elbows parallel: Make a loop in strap that is as wide as shoulder tip to shoulder tip. Place the strap around both of your arms, above the elbow (in the direction of the shoulder). Enter into the pose as above, using the strap as guidance to keep elbows parallel. You may also press out into the strap to get extra lift.
To draw inner thighs towards one another: Place a block between your upper inner thighs (narrow width) and transition through the pose without releasing the block.
To aid in opening the chest and shoulders: At the wall, place two blocks shoulder width apart with the narrow side in contact with the wall. Set up for the pose, placing your hands onto the blocks so that the fingers are draping over the edge with the palm and balls of the hand firmly on the block. This will give you extra height that may be missing if you are tighter through the shoulders and chest. If you are using wooden blocks, create slack in your yoga mat first so that you can wrap the end of the yoga mat over the blocks to prevent sliding.
To aid in opening the hip flexors or low back: At the wall, place two blocks hip width distance apart with the narrow side in contact with the wall. Set up for the pose, placing your feet onto the blocks. This will give you extra height that may be missing if you are tighter through the hip flexors. If you are using wooden blocks, create slack in your yoga mat first so that you can wrap the end of the yoga mat over the blocks to prevent sliding.