Moving from Bridge to Wheel

Moving from Bridge to Wheel

Moving from Bridge to Wheel


In class, we often begin the backbending segment with bridge.  This backbend gently opens the heart with the use of the legs, inner thighs, and core.  The hips lift until you are resting on your upper back.  Your arms and shoulders tuck underneath you with your hands clasped.  After a few months, or years, of this pose you may decide you want to try wheel.  If possible, wave your teacher over to help guide you through your first time in the pose.  (You may never want to try wheel and that works too.  That is the beauty of yoga.  Doing wheel will not speed up your personal evolution, nor will it make you kinder.)

Sanskrit name:  urdhva dhanurasana

If you decide you want to move into wheel, here are the first steps:

  • from bridge untuck your shoulders and bring your hands by your ears (fingers pointing toward your shoulders, elbows point up to the sky)
  • with elbows drawn in, press up on to the top of your head
  • stay here a few breaths and notice your breath
  • if you can, squeeze your elbows in and draw your shoulders away from your ears
  • press up into wheel with arms extended and reach the heart toward the wall behind you
  • keep your feet internally rotated and press down through all edges of the feet (this will keep your low back long)
  • to come out lower onto your head, then release the spine down slowly, tilt the tailbone so it is the last thing to touch the floor
  • draw knees to your chest and rest
  • if you find you cannot stay in wheel long, try walking your feet away from your hips slightly then going into the pose


Benefits of wheel:

  • stretches the chest and lungs
  • strengthens the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine
  • stimulates the thyroid and pituitary
  • increases energy and counteracts depression
  • therapeutic for asthma, back pain, and osteoporosis



  • any twist will do- twists re-set the spine after backbends
  • knees to chest, rock side to side
  • happy baby pose



Elizabeth Delaney