Asana · Fitness · Flexibility · How To · iyengar · Men's Health · Yoga

How to Use Yoga Props To Get Into Wheel Pose or Urdhva Dhanurasana

Last week I posted a Hyperlapsed version of this video and got a few complaints about how fast it was going. Well, yes! A 3 minute video was cut into 7 seconds. So here is the full deal (video below).

LA has a plethora of yoga teachers to choose from. What I look for these days when I do look for new teachers to learn from are ones who are creative and unique in their practice and teaching. Jenny Aurthur is one of those teachers who I’ve been taking for the past 16 months. She is one of Carrie Owerko’s (a senior Iyengar teacher) students and she initially recommended that I do the 25-hour intensive at Wanderlust with Carrie last month and couldn’t be happier. I’m all about the Iyengar practice these days and it was refreshing to work with a teacher who has brought so much playfulness into the practice. Carrie writes on her website the following about play and yoga:

Disciplined practice is said to be a path to freedom.  But discipline without the permission to play can lead to discipline devoid of delight. The practice can lose its vitality, its joy, its juice. The practice can become mechanical and we can lose the ability to wonder, and the ability to try things differently. Discipline combined with delight or a ‘way of play’ is truly liberating because we are free to explore, to learn, to grow, to evolve. We are free to listen and respond to what is emerging from within- even if it does not conform to what had have been trained to expect. We make space for insight, and even delight – genuine delight. 

If you haven’t checked out Jenny’s class at Yoga Works Los Feliz or Larchmont you are missing out. Unfortunately, she’ll be traveling to teach in New York and Amsterdam the next few weeks, but will be back around summer. Her safe and intelligent sequencing guarantees any yoga practitioner to learn something new each time.


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I used to be terrified of backbends after finding out I had a labrum tear in my right shoulder. In fact, my practice went from doing drop backs and doing no backbends that involved my arms going behind my ear. Last year I took a backbending workshop with Jenny and finally got my confidence back with those bends. I modified, by additionally placing two blocks elevated by two blankets, which works better with my shoulders. Of course, we had an hour of warming up through various sun salutations and smaller back bends leading up to this peak pose. If you are looking for a safer way to get into wheel pose in your practice try this version out. Start by placing a yoga chair upside down and a bolster as a back pillow underneath the seat. place a block in front for your seat. Once seated bring the bolster up so your thoracic spine can be firmly be supported by it and not be bothered by the metal of the chair. Bring your arms behind the legs of the chair and start with a few warm-up back bends. Keep your heels high to start with but eventually work towards bringing them to the ground once you’ve reached back and placed the whole of the palm on the ground (or blocks) fingers pointing towards your feet. It’s important to also plug the arm bones into their sockets and work towards engaging the elbows once in the backbend.  I used two blankets and two blocks to have better access of my palms to a surface. Having previous shoulder injuries, this at least, gave me the peace of mind. Go for it, try it. But, warm up first. Of course, it is always better to work with a teacher for some of these more complicated yoga poses.

Here is the full video with all the trials and tribulations (and a little bit of jamming upon success).


One thought on “How to Use Yoga Props To Get Into Wheel Pose or Urdhva Dhanurasana

  1. Thank you for the video, I have all of these props, I will have to try the pose this way to see if I can get up higher and straighten my arms.


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