Chakrasana (wheel pose)
1. Lie on the back with the knees bent and the heels touching the buttocks.
2. The feet and knees should be about 30 cm apart.
3. Place the palms on the floor beside the head with the fingers pointing towards the shoulders. This is the starting position.
4. Slowly raise the body and arch the back, allowing the crown of the head to support the weight of the upper body.
5. Move the hands in further towards the body for more support if necessary.
6. Straighten the arms and legs as much as possible and lift the head and trunk from the floor.
7. Try to arch the back as high as possible in the final position.
8. Straighten the knees further by moving the trunk towards the head.
9. Let the head hang between the straight arms.
10. Lift the heels and balance on the balls of the feet and the hands for a few seconds, then lower the heels.
11. Hold the final position for as long as is comfortable. Slowly lower the body so the head rests on the floor and then lower the rest of the body.
This is one round.
Note: While holding, maintain normal breathing.
Breathing: Inhale in the starting position. Retain the breath inside while raising the body. Retain the breath inside or breathe normally in the final position. Exhale while lowering the body.
Duration: Hold for as long as is comfortable. Practise up to 3 rounds.
Physical - on relaxing the spine in the final position and on the chest and abdomen.
Spiritual - on manipura chakra.
Sequence: Chakrasana should be practised after mastery of preliminary and intermediate backward bending asanas. It may be followed with forward bending asanas such as halasana and sarvangasana which apply a tight forward lock on the neck.
Contra-indications: Chakrasana should not be practised by people with any illness, weak wrists, during pregnancy or when feeling generally tired.
Benefits: Chakrasana is beneficial to the nervous, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular and glandular systems. It influences all the hormonal secretions and relieves various gynaecological disorders.
Practice note: Chakrasana should preferably be practised on a soft carpet which will protect the head. It should not be practised on a blanket which may slip. This is an inverted asana in which the whole body and nervous system are being placed in an abnormal position. It may be difficult to raise the body because the nervous system is not ready. If the sense of position in space, or proprioception, is lost, strength is also lost. This asana develops this sense of position in space.
Variation I: (from the standing position) Stand with the feet about one foot apart. Raise the arms straight up over the head about shoulder width apart. Bend backward, bending first the knees, then the hips and finally the spine. Bring the hands to the floor under the shoulders.
Variation 2: Poorna Chakrasana (full wheel pose) Those people who are comfortable in chakrasana may extend the practice by carefully moving the hands towards the feet. In the final position, and only if the spine is extremely flexible, the hands grasp the feet, placing the elbows on the floor to form a complete wheel.