8 hours. 8 hours of work is all that stands in my way of vacation in Maine with Michael. I can’t wait and am really looking forward to unwinding, relaxing and recharging. Out plans include hiking in Acadia National Park, doing a whale watch to see PUFFINS (so excited for that), checking out lighthouses, kayaking on the ocean, bike rides, a winery, golfing and of course lobsters and seafood for meals! We’ll be making sure to see fireworks for the 4th of July too! The most exciting part to me is sitting on the deck overlooking the ocean drinking my morning coffee and enjoy wine and cheese with the sunset. It’s the little things in life that excite me honestly. I hope to feel inspired to post some pictures when we are relaxing but forgive me if enjoying the moment wins out. Don’t worry though! I have lined up a couple amazing blogger friends to guest post! Seriously, I love these ladies blogs and am continually inspired by their writing so I hope you enjoy the guest posts as much as I do! I also have a post for you all about staying healthy at summer barbecues and parties…just in time for 4th of July! It’ll be a good week of blog reads I can promise that!
Today, let’s chat about wheel pose. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a yoga pose post and I’ve been obsessed with wheel lately. I enjoy the pose because it is challenging both mentally and physically. It is hard to position yourself and continually lift your hips all while maintaining even breath and finding peace in the pose. Asanas that have me upside down like wheel, shoulder stand and head stand make me nervous and definitely don’t come naturally; but they do feel awesome! I’ve always wanted to build strength and confidence to go from wheel to standing and back down. I think it’s beautiful and am always impressed with yogis and yoginis who can do that. I’ve been adding wheel pose into every practice to help build strength in the pose and to overcome my fear and discomfort.
I love wheel pose mostly for the stretch I feel in my chest and the expansion in my lungs. The bend in the low back can relieve a lot of stress that builds up and is not released with forward bending poses. The pose is so challenging since it works your entire body including your wrists, arms, legs, abs and back. With the positioning of your head (being tilted back) it stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands. To maximize the benefits of this pose you often come into and out of the pose multiple times. Most instructors do three to five rounds of the pose.
My favorite way to enter the pose is towards the end of my practice. I usually take one or two bridge poses (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) before coming into wheel. This allows me to stretch my quads, abs and shoulders before entering the more challenging pose. If you don’t like bridge try cobra, upward dog and hero to help you achieve the same thing. When I’m ready to start the pose I lay flat on my back. I start by taking a few deep breaths and calming my body. Next I bend my knees and walk them in as close to my sits bones as possible and bend my arms placing my palms flat on the floor next to my ears, my fingers point towards my shoulders. I start by pushing my feet to the floor and lifting my pelvis to the sky. When I first get into the pose I continue to lift my pelvis and take a few breaths. I then begin to work my shoulders open by pushing into my palms and taking three to five breaths. To come out I think about lowering my neck on the floor and then slowly come down rolling vertebrae by vertebrae. Generally, I enter into the pose two more times for a total of 3 times. Since my goal is to eventually go to standing I work to straighten my legs and walk them closer to my shoulders to deepen the pose. To counter the pose come in to a seated spinal twist or lay in child’s pose with your hands resting palms up on the low back.
Props can be really helpful in this pose. Using a strap can help you to better understand your alignment. One suggestion is to take a strap and make a loop with it. Make the loop wide enough so that your feet and legs can be hip width and not any wider. Step into the loop and position it just above your knees on the thighs. When you lift in to wheel the strap will help to keep your legs parallel and will prevent your legs from splaying open due to a tight groin. Blocks are also very helpful to use under the hands or feet. The can help you to lift further to deepen the pose by straightening your arms or legs more. I’ve found them very helpful as I try to progress the pose. They give you a feel of a progressed pose so you know what to work towards. One of my all time favorite props is an instructor. They often stand between your head, and you can grab their ankles or feet. Depending on where you are tight they can help to lift your pelvis to deepen the pose or work with you to help push your shoulder blades away from the body. Either feel great and again help you to better understand how to progress the pose.
I love wheel for its challenge but also for all the ways you can progress the pose. I often find that I have a renewed sense of energy when I come out. On top of that, it makes my back feel amazing!
Ok, I’m off to get this day going! Enjoy these words for the weekend….