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Do you have a yoga pose you just don’t like? Or you know is just not achievable (and therefore don’t like it)? There are loads of poses I can’t do. I know, however, that this just means I can’t do them yet. There is one pose that doesn’t fit this mental (and physical) progression. Wheel pose (or Urdva Dhanurasana)! Apparently it is an invigorating pose that requires strength, effort and one which basically uses all parts of the body. Well not my body thank you very much. This isn’t even a pessimistic view – in my opinion. I just know it is a yoga pose that I’ll never manage.
Good advice I am not going to take
I read and view a lot of posts about yoga on twitter, instagram, Pinterest and blogs. It’s great to read the advice, see the pictures, learn the ‘do’s and don’ts’ and also to follow other people in their practice. I have looked at posts on Wheel pose since I first came accross in it a yoga class. Initially I was optimistic. Now I am a realist.
There are a number of other poses that you can practice to prepare for wheel. Upward Dog for opening the chest and backbend – tick. Locust to build back and backside (glutes) strength – tick. Camel pose for stretching the quads, opening the shoulders and of course the backbend – half tick. Bridge pose as a precurser – quarter…ish tick. Bow pose – hmmm, does grabbing one sweaty foot and missing the other count?
The thing about all those other poses is that I know I have progressed in them and I know I will achieve them. So the advice would suggest that I will get into Wheel.
Here is why I won’t. I have strength (I used to lift weights as my fitness routine). I even have core strength and can do a mean, if not sort of perfect, plank. I basically have strength in isolation. So putting together back strength, core strength, quads, glutes, arms and shoulders all together leads to me having no strength. This sounds weird but in bridge pose my legs quiver, my stomach protests and my backside just wants to land back on the mat. Never mind the fact that my boobs interfere with my chin regardless of what sports bra they are strapped into. I also have tight shoulders and no matter how many weights I used to lift (chest press using the bar was a favourite) there is no way my arms are holding me up into a Wheel. The one bit of advice a teacher gave which I thought was a gem was that basically your hand placement is pushing one way and your feet placement is pushing the other way so the middle of you will lift. Again on paper this sounds weird but in practice I totally get it. The problem is my practice doesn’t involve that lift.
What happens when it is part of the class
This occurred on Tuesday. My Tuesday yoga teacher is fab and her classes are hard (in that they push you physically) but satisfying. So when she said that we would be working towards Wheel my heart sank a little. I had to have a talk to myself. Not out loud (that would be embarrassing). I set my intention that my practice in the class would be to be strong and to build on what I could achieve. To be fair the classes I go to are so supportive and don’t group you into levels. So nobody feels under pressure to achieve the ‘peak’ pose and all levels are pretty much celebrated by everyone. It also felt great to hear her [yoga teacher] admit this was one of her least liked poses and that this was a good reason to practice it. Fair enough and I am ok with the practicing. I just know I won’t get there.
We did all the aforementioned poses throughout the vinyasa class. We got to Bridge pose and I did my best Bridge yet. This was an acheivement! My teacher had good hints about blocks against the wall for Wheel practice (either for your feet or hands depending on what you felt you needed to assist). I tried this. I still failed to get into Wheel. I’m ok with this. I know it is that pose I will never manage. So I did a better Bridge. Better than my previous bridges and was pretty chuffed with that. When it comes up again I will practice my Bridge. Hopefully my legs will stop shaking, my feet will stop sweating and my backside will lift to the sky (there is no hope that my boobs will not attempt to suffocate me). But this will be in Bridge. There is no way I am getting to Wheel.
If I ever do manage to do a Wheel I take all this back!