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Back Bend/Wheel Pose Progression


Devyn

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Hi! I am an intermediate yoga student, but for my next challenge I'd like to be able to do a full Wheel Pose. However, when I look up progressions to get into that pose, none seem to exist. I cannot do the pose, yet most websites I look at assume you just don't know how to do it rather than you lack the ability. Is there a good, safe way to build up to that pose?

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I couldn't do wheel until recently. I find that I need sufficient warm up before it's possible. If I try to do it cold (obviously you wouldn't do that) or near the beginning of my session I have more trouble.

Key things that helped me: camel. Can you do any version of that? These are the progressions I followed for camel (sorry for the large pics):

camel1.jpg420_camel_yoga9.imgcache.rev1295543770444.jpgcamel_deve_ustrasana(1).jpg

Usually, if I do that before wheel, I have more success. Just really focus on pushing the hips out not just leaning back.

Bow helped, too. As did bridge. Some progressions I found helpful:

bridge-pose-yoga-400.jpgBridge-Yoga-Stretch.jpg

Pretty much, start focusing on a lot of hip and chest openers, then get into a bridge position. Slowly work from the bridge to getting your hands in the proper position. Once you can do that, focus on small movements and moving your weight around more and more to your arms and moving your chest, hips, torso to the sky. You don't necessarily have to do it. Just start playing with the movements and feeling. Then, when you're feeling sassy, go for getting the top of your head down. This is still really well supported by your arms, like all headstands, so you know what part of your head needs to be down. From there, you'll move to pushing your middle up so your head comes off and you're in wheel.

You can also try, once you've moved to wheel, getting on your tip toes and then moving to flat feet.

Anyhow, hope that helps! I was shocked when I finally got it but this is the general progression and strategy I took. Good luck!!

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Do your arms feel weak or is a mental thing? If your arms feel weak, do a lot more arm work and more intense push ups. If you're strong enough then it's a mental thing (which we all get) and there's no fool proof advice for working through that. It'll just come.

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It might be a bit of both. I'm not sure if it's my arms. I can't actually get my upper body off of the ground, I can't push that part up with my arms. I never have been able to. Seems weird that my upper body strength is not too terrible, but I can't seem to do something basic like that...

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Haha bodies are weird. Minds are weirder.

I might try slowly progressing. I feel like maybe there's a safe way you could work blocks or something under you so that you can work on lifting and holding in that position without having to go too far from air to ground? Or, if you have any yoga friends, they may be able to help, too?

I would really just get in the position on the floor and keep trying to get up. :shrug: it's a tricky position, that wheel.

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find it interesting that when I google "wheel pose progression" this post is in the top five answers..... 

 

 

off to look more

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Holding handstands, moving on to partial ROM, than full ROM handstand pushups would help with the upper body part of wheel.  Another possbility to do are pike pushups.
 
The more vertically you stack your upper body, the easier it is; get your neck as close to vertical as possible, if not slightly beyond vertical.  Thoracic spine mobility work (see MobilityWOD, lost of stuff for that area) will help with that.
 
The step before full wheel should be where you get up into it but keep your head on the ground (a la a headstand vs. a handstand).
 
2163headbridgej_00000004060.jpg

The final step then is to push up off your head fully into wheel once you get comfortable with this position.

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A little late to the party, but are you starting by pushing with your legs? I find when I get into wheel, my quads and my feet are doing a lot more work than my arms and hands. I'm pretty sure I engage my lower body before my upper body to get into the pose.

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I'm just as late as Maris Stella, but since this post got bumped:

 

She's right ^^^^.   When I do a wheel, I place my hands next to my head, but I don't really push with them at first.  Instead, I push up with my legs and hips, and my hips will travel up toward the top of my body, which lets me get my arms under me.  Or, I guess another way to put it is that my waist doesn't just push straight up.  It kind of arcs a bit toward my head and hands, with my legs driving the whole motion.

 

If that doesn't help, I would try having a person spot you and give you a little support or boost when you try to push up.  You could also try sitting on a yoga ball, bending backward over it, and then pushing up from there into a wheel.

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