Hello and good day!
Today I am going to do a reader request for you, and at the end you will find a super fun promo code to take advantage of!
I have been asked by a few people to do a tutorial showing you how to push up into Urdhva Dhanurasana or upward facing bow pose. Some may know this pose as wheel - but in true wheel your hands meet your ankles 🙂
**This tutorial is for generally healthy people who are comfortable in their bodies 🙂 Please do not push yourself past your boundaries at any time. If you are unsure about anything please check in with a trusted yoga teacher before progressing farther. I am not in the room with you so I cannot let you know if these exercises are appropriate for you. Please use your judgement, be safe and have fun!**
To press up successfully into this pose, and not come crashing back down onto the top of your head, you must have:
- Strong positioning of the feet
- Strong, engaged legs
- Open hips
- Open chest/abdominal region
- Strong arms and hands
So, I am going to give you a line up of postures you can use to help open and strengthen what needs opening and strengthening, and then I will give you a play by play for how to line up your body for success in this pose 🙂
Exercise 1: Wall Walks
This exercise will help you open your chest and upper body, will give you some support while you practice the shape of Upward Facing Bow, and it will help cultivate the awareness you need to draw your weight into your legs.
Start standing about two to three feet from a wall, with your back to the wall and your feel shoulder distance apart. From here lean back with your hands at heart centre to look at the wall:
Reach your hands up and over your head to make contact with the wall:
Next, slowly start to walk your hands down the wall, being mindful to keep your weight firmly planted in your feet. Go super slow here to ensure you stay comfortable as you move. You may stop at any point here and just hang out, you do not have to go to the floor:
If you feel good, walk your hands all the way down to the floor. It is totally fine to stay up at any point along the wall, and it is also good to move your feet further from the wall if you need to:
Once you are down there, hang out. Press your chest firmly into the wall by engaging your legs. Let the wall support you as you find openness. When you are ready to come out, simply walk your hands back up the wall and return to your standing position.
Exercise 2: Camel Against The Wall:
Camel or Ustrasana is a great pose to help you practice the engagement of the legs you need in Upward Facing Dog.
Begin kneeling with your hips and thighs resting directly against a wall. Keep your knees hips distance apart, toes in alignment with your knees. Press your pelvic into the wall, as you lift your chest, chin tucked into your chest. Place your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing up towards your shoulders. From here you can start to open the chest to the ceiling, leaning the upper body back towards your toes. If it feels available to you, you may open your throat allowing your head to drop back:
You can then stay in the same position - pressing your legs and your pelvic into the wall strongly, or you can take your hands back and reach for your heels. You can do this with tucked toes or untucked toes. Stay here for 5-6 breaths really feeling the strength of your legs pressing into the wall:
To come out, slowly reverse what you did to get in, then simply sit on your heels for a breath or two.
Exercise 3: Dolphins:
The next two exercises will strengthening your chest, shoulders and arms to help give you the power you need to lift up into the pose.
Start in your downward facing dog position. Keeping the legs as they are, slowly release your arms so that your forearms come to rest on your mat with your elbows lined up with your shoulders. Interlace your fingers, and draw your lower belly in and up slightly:
Now move your chin so that it brushes against your knuckles. You will be moving your entire upper body forward as you do this movement, coming onto your tip toes:
Press yourself back to starting position.
Practice this motion 10-15 times. Then take a rest in childs pose.
Exercise 4: Triceps Pushups:
Return to your downward facing dog position. Now rotate your hands and arms so that your fingers face in - pointing towards the centre of your mat. Keep your hands about shoulder distance apart here. Next walk your feet in towards your head a few inches:
Now drop your head straight down between your hands, coming close to the mat but not touching it. Then press yourself back up:
Repeat this 10-15 times. Then rest in childs pose.
Exercise 5: Bridge Pose:
This pose will help you to establish your feel, leg and hip positioning for a successful upward facing bow.
To start, come lying flat on your mat. Bend your knees, and plant your feet about an inch or two away from your bottom, heels in line with your hips. Imagine that you have a block between your thighs that you want to squeeze as you do this pose. (You can actually place a block or small pillow between your thighs if you have one!) You do not want to actually bring your knees together, just engage the muscles that would draw them together keeping your knees in line with your hips. Make sure your spine is long against your mat. Allow your arms to come lying flat against your sides, then bend your elbows and bring your upper arms up perpendicular to the floor.
From here, pressing to your feet strongly, as you start to tilt you pelvic, lifting your tail bone off the ground. Energetically hug the thighs into the imaginary (or real) block, keeping your knees in line with your feet. Keep lifting until you lower back, middle back and upper back are off your mat:
Resist the urge to squeeze your bum here. Instead activate the backs of the legs, press into the floor with your feet and energetically draw the thighs together. Hold here for 10 breaths. The release.
Upward Facing Bow:
To come into the full pose, begin like you did in bridge. Feel 1-2 inches from the bum, hips distance apart. Make sure your spine is long against the mat. Now take your hands, and place them just behind your shoulders, with your fingers pointing down towards your feet:
Next, lift your lower body into bridge position. You can stay here or use the strength of your arms to lift your upper body up so that you can rest on the top of your head:
Again, you can hang out here or you can extend your arms, lifting up into the pose:
Be sure to keep your feet parallel to one another, not pointing out. Engage the legs like you did in bridge. Press strongly into the mat with your hands. Hang out until you are ready to come down, and reverse the process. Lower onto your head then all the way down onto your mat.
How did that go?
Now, I would love to introduce you to Muuyu.com! They are a new site where you can attend live yoga classes, from the comfort of your own home.
I was contacted by Muuyu a few weeks ago, and I have to say I am totally impressed with their idea, their website, the ease of use, and of of course, the yoga!
Here is a little more about Muuyu, how their system works, and how you can get a discount!
The Muuyu Story:
In 2007 The founder Matt Devine, after a long negotiation gone wrong, was invited by a friend to do a teachers training for bikram Yoga, which he had started doing 6 years back. To detox from his corporate world he accepted the invitation. After doing the training he went back to south Africa to visit his family and during a conversation with his father - who knew little about the subject - told Matt he would love to learn more. Right there Matt came up with the idea. It was right about the time when Facebook was gaining popularity and with his 15 years of experience in the telecommunications business, he came up with the concept for Muuyu. On February 2013 he came to Berlin, got in contact with a motivated computer scientist and began developing the site.
How Muuyu works:
It is very simple, you sign up and make yourself a profile. This way teachers will know a little about you before you get to the class. You can search for and then sign up for the class you want to take - you can filter by date, style of yoga, benefit your looking for, level of expertise, and price. After you have signed up for a class all you have to do, is connect to Muuyu when its time for the class, launch it, and enjoy!
What To Expect WIth Muuyu:
People can expect a great live yoga class. The benefits of Muuyu include:
- You can do a class whenever, wherever you want.
- The schedule adapts to you, and not the other way around.
- If your at home, and find yourself in a free time, you can just roll out your mat and do a class.
- Its all about people getting there classes without time constrains.
- We don't want to rob the studios of their students, we want to give people more alternatives to exercise in their own hours.
On the down side, you may miss a little the intimacy of touching, and your teacher adjusting your pose with their hands. But our teachers are excellent, and give amazing spoken instructions.
Muuyu yoga has generously offered you guys a discount! You can register for a class using the discount code #perceptiontrainers
Let me know if you give Muuyu a try, and what other postures you would like to see work shopped here!