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Benefit from Deep Backbends with Wildthing Into Wheel Breakdown

Your wild thing into wheel breakdown shows you how to shift from an arm balance into a backend.

Keep reading to learn about the muscles to strengthen and the muscles to lengthen, poses to prepare the body, and modifications for new practitioners and those with wrist/shoulder sensitivity. 

About Your Wildthing into Wheel Breakdown:

The poses we are moving through include side plank, bow pose, half bow, and wheel pose.

All of these poses involve a lot of strength.

This transition is an arm balance and a backbend that features three shapes:

  1. Side plank

  2. Bow pose/half bow pose

  3. Wheel pose 

Each shape involves a lot of strength and refinement in weight distribution. It will look different in everybody as we are all proportioned so differently. 

Modifications:
Side plank, bow pose on your belly, half bow on hands and knees. 
Body Parts Targeted:
Wrists, entire frontline including the chest, spine, hip flexors (psoas), and quadriceps. 

Muscles to strengthen: 
Core, arms, back body. 

Muscles to stretch:
The front body includes the chest and hip flexors, side body, quads, and wrists (wrists). 

Level: Intermediate
Props: 2 blocks
* You can place the two blocks under your feet – watch this tutorial to see how

Blocks under the feet create a platform for the lower back. This variation provides more space for the lower back and a fun way to engage the legs to build strength.

For Seasoned Practitioners:

Place a block under each hand just outside the head at the mat’s top. Place your palms on the blocks with your fingers pointing toward your knees, just off the blocks.

The blocks placed under the hands are great for those with wrist sensitivity or those recovering from injury. 

Take the class featuring this transition: Into the Experience Vinyasa.

From the Wheel into Wildthing Breakdown:

Review the lecture with Clara Roberts-Oss

 Welcome to the breakdown of side plank with half bow into Urdhva Dhanurasana, aka wheel pose.

This is an interesting transition because it’s an arm balance into a backbend, and then the transition out is back into an arm balance.

The first way I’d love to think about it is to break it down into three shapes as we progress toward the wheel pose. 

What are the poses we progress through in this transition? 

The poses we are moving through include side plank, bow pose, half bow, and wheel pose. All of these poses involve a lot of strength.

The biggest thing about arm balances is it’s all about weight distribution and understanding the proportions of your body and how it will work in your own body. 

What do you want to open/stretch to prepare for wild things into the wheel? 

When teaching this, I want to focus on opening up the front body as much as possible, strengthening the arms, and strengthening the back.

In today’s practice, we opened the quadriceps and psoas. Generally, most people are tight in these areas just from sitting.

The psoas are the hip flexor muscles targeted when sitting, driving, etc.

So, right off the bat, after I did the warmup, we went right into a thigh stretch.

If you’re in practice with me, and we start with that, know we’re going towards backbends. Just cause I’m preparing the part that needs the most opening.

And I opened the psoas in different planes. I opened it in a lunge pose. We did a front of the thigh/hip flexor stretch standing up, and then I did it lying down.

So the idea is just playing with the opening in different planes, like lunging, standing, and lying on the belly, allowing different bodies to open up in other ways.

The one lying down is generally the most accessible regarding being on the knee because there isn’t much pressure. The second would be standing up, and the third would be lunge. I went the opposite way because of how the sequence worked, but it was something to consider and bear. 

Another thing to focus on in terms of the opening is to open up the side waist.

The usual way of doing it would have been like a peaceful warrior versus a warrior pose. I did it differently today. I did it today when we were standing up, essentially coming into dancing Shiva, working the top arm up towards the sky.

And then I also did it in terms of twisting.

The twisting lengthens the side waist. The other thing that needs to be opened up is the triceps. 

Things to think about at the beginning of class, or you could also do it at the end, is wrist release. We didn’t do it today because the class wasn’t very long, so I didn’t feel we needed it. But if I’d been teaching this a 90-minute class, we would have done a lot more stuff on our hands, and then I would have felt we needed to release it. So if that’s the case, hands together, and you can create little figure eights, infinity signs. This motion would have helped to release the wrist. 

What counterposes would you include after deep backbends? 

We opened up many of the front body and the side waist to prepare for the peak postures. And so, at the end of class, I did glute opening. So we did a hip opener.

And then, we did seated meditation. I specifically did seated meditation with Nadi Shodhana because backbends can be very stimulating.

Which is fantastic, but I wanted us to ground afterward. And so a couple of ways of doing that are in the way that I did it specifically today is alternate nostril breathing.

Nadi Shodhana balances the lunar and solar sides of the body— we stayed seated for meditation.

And I also did it that way because my theme today was all about the experience, right? Letting go of concepts and dropping down into the experience.

And so I find that a lot is opened and stimulated after back bending. Sitting in it afterward gives us time for contemplation and reflection on what came before and how we feel now after all that opening.

That was my methodology behind today’s class.

Another way that I would have closed the class is with supported forward folds. So, with a bolster or blocks underneath the knees and one underneath the head.

The idea of the forward fold is to bring the awareness back inside after all this opening going outwards.

I don’t teach deep forward folds after back bending, which can significantly affect the low spine. This is where a supported fold would be a good option. 

After a back bending class, we can ground through meditation.

Or we can do it through forward folds. We can do that through pranayama. We can do it through mantra, but taking the opportunity to bring it down after being stimulated is essential. 

How do we work with weight distribution? 

When doing a wild thing yoga pose into wheel pose, I will bring more weight into my feet.

I bend my knees a little bit so that I’m lighter.  And then from here, the top arm, which is the right arm, the right hand, comes down to the ground. So, notice how my left elbow just bent a lot. Then, I pivot both my feet and my hands almost at the same time.

So, all ten fingers are reaching towards the back of the mat.  I will bring more weight back to my feet, so I bend my knees.  My left-hand goes out towards the left, so my thumb is out to the left to shift over to my left side.  My left leg straightens, my right knee comes towards the chest, and I go back into down dog. 

With the weight distribution, you need to take a lot of weight into your feet and out of your hands to make it easier to transition.

Are there other considerations when teaching this transition from wild thing into the wheel?

Yoga poses into wheel pose is a lot on the wrists, in terms of flexion, meaning that your elbow is going quite far towards your fingers.

So, if you do have tight forearms,  this may not be accessible. If this is the case, sit your butt down,  turn around, face the back of the mat, lie down, and come into wheel pose from the ground up.

Seraphina Dawn

Seraphina has a BA in Literature from Simone Fraser University and participated in the Creative Writing Program at UC Berkeley. She is a Kundalini teacher, writer, and poet. She admires Clarice Lispector’s prose, Octavia Butler’s fiction, and Simone Weil's philosophy. Seraphina currently lives in Istanbul. 

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