Advance your Yoga practice by moving beyond the physical body
Chakrasana or Urdva Dhanurasana
I love this asana as it opens us to vulnerability and, ultimately, to freedom, to open up to life. It opens my heart when I feel it closed. It gives me space to love. It brings me directly into the heart space. It stimulates all 5 Prana Vayus. Chakrasana benefits the physiology and psychology of your body-mind.
In Sanskrit, chakra means wheel, and so we call it wheel pose: Chakrasana or Urdva Danhurasana, which means extended bow pose. As it is a deep backbend and deep heart opener, we say that it opens the heart chakra, but actually, it is an integrating pose that stimulates all these energetic vortexes called chakras equally.
Chakrasana strongly engages the whole body. Especially the legs, arms, pelvis, and shoulders, but its greatest impact is on the spine and the organs in the torso. In this pose, the spine is pressed uniformly toward the front of the body. This asana is the first of the finishing sequence in the Ashtanga Yoga primary series sequence.
To learn how to practice chakrasana, which is an advanced posture, you need to prepare your body with a powerful practice. Ground through your feet, and lengthen your quads, hip flexors, and psoas. Practice backbends and shoulder openers. Your gaze is Nasagra Drishti. You should do this pose towards the end of your practice and then slowly unwind, counterposing and balancing with a forward- bend and a twist.
“Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there.” – Rumi
To learn how to practice Chakrasana integrally –body-mind –space- yoga prescribes to first master this asana (by being able to maintain this pose for 12 breaths comfortably). Hold the pose as long as you can breathe effortlessly and diaphragmatically. Then come out.
Once you are ready to hold it with a comfortable breath and for 12 rounds of breath, you can coordinate the universal mantra Soham (pronounced so-hum) with your breath. In Chakrasana, as you begin your inhalation, let your awareness move to the root chakra at the pelvic floor, concentrating internally on the sound ‘So’, the sound of your inhalation. As you inhale ascending with your awareness along your spine, visualize the chakras glittering along the spine with the sound “So”:
Top of your inhale, reach your awareness to the crown of the head, and then as you begin to exhale, witness the sound ‘Hum’, the sound of your exhale, reverse the flow of your awareness from the crown of the head moving down to the base of the spine. Repeat this cycle with each breath. Your breath should be slow, long, and smooth, almost soundless outwardly. Listen internally to the sound ‘So’ on the inhale and ‘Ham’ on the exhale.
This pose is highly invigorating for the nervous system, so after you release from it, counterpose: when on your back again, on the floor, take a couple of breaths, hug your knees for a moment and then move to Pashchimotanasana or to the finishing sequence.
The ancient texts hold this asana in the highest regard. In the tantric tradition of Sri Vidya, Chakrasana is used for Shakti Chalana-the awakening of Kundalini Sakti, the primordial pool of energy and intelligence that resides in the human body. In its advanced stages, Chakrasana is used for Granthi Bedana, the piercing of the three Granthis or knots (special spots of latent energy in the body), assisting kundalini in awakening.