Day 7 Urdhva Dhanurasana
Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose
Urdhva Dhanurasana (OORD-vah don-your-AHS-anna)
Need an energy boost? Urdhva Dhanurasana can help—and strengthen your arms, legs, abdomen, and spine in the process.
Here are some key actions and tips for Upward Bow:
1. Keep the feet parallel and hip-width distance apart.
When we come into Upward Bow, our hips are moving into extension. This would be the opposite of drawing the knees into the chest or the position of the hips when we’re sitting. We’re essentially “increasing the angle” between the thighs and the belly.
2. Push off the legs, not the hands.
While this pose is a combination of hands and feet on the ground, the initial effort should come from the legs. I like to suggest to students “it’s as if you were diving backwards” as a way to bring them into the power of the “push off.” From there, the hands and arms come into play to refine the movement upwards.
3. Wrap the elbows in as you come up.
As you wrap the elbows in, you activate the serratus anterior muscle, allowing the shoulder blades to stay close to the body and providing the necessary “upward lift” from the floor.
4. Work the bend in the spine from the mid-back (thoracic).
I suggest that students set up their hands, wrap their elbows in and then slightly lift their sternum (breastbone). This begins the slight bend in the mid-back and from there, they can come into their legs and press down to lift up.
5. Once you are up in the pose, keep the inner thighs moving down, feet straight and evenly balance between hands and feet.
Just like in many poses that involve the hands and feet on the ground, one of the challenges is to balance out between the two ends of the body. Once you come up into the pose, balance the weight between the hands and the feet. I like to think of the belly button as the “top” of the pose and that part of the body is centered over the floor.
Stretches the chest and lungs
Strengthens the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine
Stimulates the thyroid and pituitary
Increases energy and counteracts depression
Therapeutic for asthma, back pain, infertility, and osteoporosis