Looking to get back-bendy? Hope so! Wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) is a great opener for the whole front line of the body, and is a great indicator of how open your shoulders and upper back are~~~Which is the limiting factor for a lot of folks for getting deeper.
Let's deconstruct it real quick and show some pointers on how to supercharge your wheel.
Just looking at the shoulders and upper back, there are three main areas that we can work with to quickly open up and warm up the shoulder girdle and spine.
-Lats (latissimus dorsi)
These structures tend to close down in daily life (sitting, typing, driving, etc)…By opening up the thoracic spine, you’ll be able to let the shoulder blade extend farther back. Opening the pec minor, will give the shoulder blade that room to open up, and flushing the lats will allow the upper arm to follow the shoulder blade….Make sense? Check out some pictures of each and try rolling in the areas shown.
Here's a before picture of Julie extending her arms comfortably.
Use the Helix straight up the T-Spine from the shoulders to the bottom of the ribcage.
Rolling the helix on the lats. Go all the way from the lower back to the shoulder
Roll lightly across the pec minor
After photo on the right arm
See the difference? Not only is Julie’s arm much more open from the front, but the shoulder and arm are both more arranged towards the mid-line. This will turn over into a much more engaged and open wheel pose.
The right side is AWAKE now….By stimulating all the small receptors in the muscle that control length, you open up the tissue and allow yourself a window of opportunity to jump into your wheel and CEMENT the new range of motion into your neurological system. Your brain needs the feedback of the movement to integrate that new range of motion into the body…..And rolling provides the window of opportunity for you to learn to control your body in a new, greater range of motion. Oh, don’t forget the other side too!