Wheel Pose or Chakrasana is based on the Sanskrit word Chakra, literally translated to “wheel,” “circle,” and “cycle.” The word can be broken down even further to the Sanskrit root cak, translated to mean “to move” such as a wheel moves energy in a circular cycle.
Chakras are energy points or nodes in the non-physical subtle body. Subtle energy channels called Nadi, life force (prana), or vital energy move through the chakras. Chakrasana is known to increase energy, stretch the upper and lower back muscles, and develop extension through the front side body.
Building up slowly and with intention into this ultimate backbend is key to keep the body and all the vital nerves in the spine safe.
Benefits of Wheel Pose or Chakrasana
The good and the bad, Chakrasana utilizes and stretches almost every major muscle in your body. As a supreme heart opener, it is excellent for strengthening the heart and igniting love from within.
It stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands, increases energy, and decreases signs and symptoms of depression. Additionally, it develops a sense of self in space and balances the body and nervous system.
Preparation Poses: Strengthen and Stretch
- Bridge Pose – strengthens the leg and back muscles and acts as a gentle inversion that stretches tight and compressed chest and torso muscles.
- Bow Pose – strengthens the core and arm muscles, increases the flexibility of the spine, and opens the chest and shoulders.
- Extended Puppy Pose – stretches the spine, shoulder, upper back, and arm muscles.
- Camel Pose – strengthens the chest, legs, and back muscles and stretches tight hip flexors, and increases flexibility for the shoulders and lower back.
- Upward Facing Dog Pose – strengthens the arm muscles and opens the chest and core.
- Cow Face Pose – stretches the chest and armpits.
- Dolphin Pose – strengthens the arms, legs, and core muscles and stretches the neck muscles.
- King Pigeon Pose – strengthens the core and leg muscles and stretches the front side body.
How to Practice
Tree Pose is a great way to help relieve sciatic pain over time. The leg lift opens your hips laterally and stretches out your inner thigh and groin, which is super yummy for athletes. Plus, lifting your chest and dropping your shoulders away from your ears stretches your spine from top to tail, making you stand taller and feel longer.
Breathe More Deeply
From Bridge Pose, place the hands by the ears with the fingertips facing toward the feet. Slowly press weight into the hands and feet, squeezing the elbows toward each other like in Chaturanga, and lift with the heart into Chakrasana.
To come out of the pose, slowly tuck the chin to the chest and roll down one vertebra at a time.
Once Chakrasana gets easier, feel free to lift one leg at a time toward the ceiling and walk the hands and feet closer together. Potentially working for a back walkover: with equal weight in the hands send the heart forward between the arms, lift with the belly button to initiate the rotation.
Send one foot at a time toward the sky in a wheel shape, landing with the feet by the ankles in a foreword fold. In the final variation of Chakrasana, walk the hands and feet together and then wrap the hands around the ankles.
“The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment, or love. What seeds will you plant there?” – Buddha
Like all heart openers, this is an extremely powerful and potentially vulnerable pose. Feel free to build up into it slowly and come out of it whenever you need it! Share below any tips or ways you know to this pose.