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How to Urdhva Dhanurasana


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Wheel Pose, or Urdhva Dhanurasana, is the queen of Backbend. 👏

So in the new year let us go beyond Urdhva Dhanurasana, and the first progression we will work on is One-Legged Wheel Pose – Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana.

If you have a reasonable degree of proficiency in Urdhva Dhanurasana, lifting one let up to Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasan is just one step away.

However, because this is an asymmetrical backbend, it introduced more instability into the posture. The key action in maintaining safety in asymmetrical backbends is to keep the pelvis level, even when one leg is up.

You do NOT want your hips to be asymmetrical or your spine to be asymmetrical.

Your top leg is flexing and your bottom leg is extending.

The pelvis, however, needs to stay level and your spine needs to backbend without twisting, or else in a deep backbend like this may overstress your lower back.

To keep your hips level in Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana, the adductors and the glutes max on the standing leg need to work super hard to stay connected to the floor has to work much harder.

Without intense engagement in these muscles, your opposite hip (the side of the lifted leg) will drop slightly toward the floor. If this hip drops, the pelvis and spine will rotate.

To start, we can prepare ourselves with a one-legged bridge pose to train the hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes.

Here are some tips for a one-legged bridge into a one-legged wheel pose.

Give this a try and see how the pose feels in your body! 👈

So often we focus on the strength and flexibility of the upper body when we think about the backbend. But in fact, the hips and legs play a big part in backbends.

Ultimately in all our yoga poses we want to find more evenness and equanimity throughout the whole body.

Instead of just thinking of going deep, think about how we can distribute effort all over our body, and as result, we feel more comfort, stability, and space in our backbends (and of course avoid injury).

This month we will focus on creating more strength and space in our hips and legs.

This is our practice. Have fun practicing! 😊

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