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How To Practice Chakrasana

How To Practice Chakrasana

What is Chakrasana?

The name Wheel Pose is the English translation of the Sanskrit word “Chakra-asana” or "Chakrasana", here chakra means a wheel. It is called Wheel Pose since the body takes almost a wheel-like posture while performing this asana.

Wheel pose belongs to the backward bending yoga asana series and is one of the most challenging backbends as it is also a semi-inversion where the head is below the level of the heart, making it difficult to coordinate the body in the upside-down position of the head. 

Chakra-asana, like Shirsasana, is a fantastic whole body asana to be practiced towards the end of the session. Without such a strong posture towards the end, the practice feels incomplete and ineffective. 

The posture requires good upper body strength and flexibility to get into the final position. Practicing this posture opens up the chest, hips, and shoulders in a way that counteracts the modern-day sitting posture. The wheel pose is said to be energizing and can lift up the mood instantly.

English Name: Wheel Pose

Alternative name: Urdhva Dhanurasana or upward-facing Bow pose 

Position type: Inversion/ Backbend

Targets: Full body

Pose level: Advanced Posture

Chakrasana or Wheel Pose

What are the benefits of Chakrasana? 

The Chakrasana or Wheel Pose strengthens the legs and arms. Improves shoulder and overall spine mobility. It opens the chest and facilitates deep breathing. It serves as an excellent asana for the reproductive and excretory systems. Practicing this posture influences many hormonal secretions and helps relieve various gynecological disorders. It relieves any stress in the upper back, and shoulder blade region, especially for those who spend long hours at the desk. It is also beneficial to the nervous, digestive, cardiovascular, and glandular systems in general.

Variations of Chakrasana

You will find multiple types of chakrasana in modern day yoga, but here we will talk about the authentic chakrasana variations. That are:

Easy Variation

For the easy Wheel pose or Chakrasana variation, practice Shoulder Bridge pose (Kandarasana), put your head and shoulder blades on the ground, and lift only the hip up. This forms a good preparatory pose for Chakrasana.

Shoulder Bridge pose or Kandarasana

Advanced Variation

For the advanced Wheel pose or Chakrasana variation, If you can effortlessly hold the Chakrasana posture for 25 breaths at a stretch then practice Ek-pada Chakrasana or one leg Wheel Pose. Here you lift one leg up towards the ceiling while maintaining the rest of the parts as in the wheel pose. This posture adds balance and active lift of the one leg as challenges. 

Ek-pada Chakrasana

How can you prepare for the Chakrasana?

The Chakrasana Pose is considered to be an advanced-level posture because it stretches the entire front side of the body. You definitely need to practice upper back flexibility postures like Cobra (Bhujangasana), Camel pose (Ustrasana), and bow pose (Dhanurasana) before attempting chakra. Apart from that you also need to strengthen your arms, wrists, shoulders, abdomen, and quadriceps. The shoulder joint mobility needs preparation with postures like Cow face (Gomukhasana), Camel Pose (Ustrasana), and Snake pose (Sarpasana). Practicing postures like a Shoulder Bridge Pose (Kandharasana) and Half Chakrasana (with the head still on the floor) can be helpful in getting into and holding Wheel Pose smoothly.

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How to practice the Chakrasana Pose?

Getting in the posture

​​1. Lie on the back, bend your knees and bring your feet hip-width apart and closer to the hips. 

2. Flip your palms, and place them closer to the shoulders, fingers pointing to the shoulders. Make sure the heels of the palms are on the floor, the palms are shoulder-width apart, and the elbow is vertically above the shoulders and not flaring open to the sides. 

3. Inhale and press your palms firmly into the floor, rolling the top of the head to the ground, and lifting the hip, and back off the ground. 

4. Then press the feet into the ground using the strength of the legs, tightening the thigh muscles. 

5. Keep the top of the head on the ground, getting an understanding of the inversion/orientation now slowly lift the head off the floor and rest on the feet and palms. 

Getting out of the posture

Exhale and roll the head, bringing the chin towards the chest. Now, Gently bring the back of the head, shoulder, upper back, and hip down in that order. Release hands and legs and relax the whole body.

Key Alignments 

  1. The feet need to remain hip-width apart and parallel to each other.
  2. Knees and elbows shouldn’t flare open to the sides, they have to be aligned right above the feet and wrist respectively.
  3. Elbows shouldn't be hyper flexed while in the final position, make sure you slightly bend your elbows in such cases.  
  4. Press from the heels, roll the thighs inwards, draw the navel in and move the body weight from the legs onto the hands. 
  5. Make sure the thoracic spine is contributing most of the backbend as compared to the lumbar spine. 
  6. Maintain the neck long even as lift the chin away from the chest and look towards the space in between the palms. 

Counter pose of Chakrasana

Since Chakrasana Pose gives a deep arch to the spine, it is important to practice a counterpose. Pawanmuktasana (Wind relieving pose) can be a perfect counter pose of chakrasana. Just be in this posture for a few breaths, this will help you to relieve the strain on the spine.

Advice for Beginners 

This pose might be difficult to get into for a lot of us, we always suggest not to rush into it or force ourselves into the pose, which might have the risk of injury. Practice the preparatory poses consistently to build strength and flexibility, you will eventually notice that your body is easily sliding into the final posture without any discomfort. Backbends are the last of the spinal bends that one should learn in their asana practice (after forward, twist, and lateral bends of the spine) and amongst backbends, Chakrasana is learned after all other prone backbends become stable. 


The Chakrasana Pose should not be practiced by people with any illness, fever,  weak wrists or unstable shoulder joints, weak back, or hernia, after any abdominal surgery, during pregnancy or when feeling generally weak and tired.  

History of Chakrasana 

We see the mention of Chakrasana in the 17th century Hatha text called Hatha Ratnavali by Srinivasa Bhatta. The text draws majorly from Hatha Pradipika and contains the list of the entire 84 asanas and Chakrasana is mentioned as number 45.

We also find a similar asana in the Sritattwanidhi, a mid-19th century work attributed to Sri Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the 22nd Maharaja of Mysore, between 1799-1868. Sritattwanidhi contains about 122 Asanas in all. These asanas are classified as; Standing posture asanas, Prone posture asanas and Supine posture asanas. There is an asana called Paryanka-asana which resembles Chakrasana, and most of these 122 asanas continue to be practiced today in modern yoga. 

We also find Chakrasana in the 19th century, a traditional line drawing of 84 Hatha yoga asana, found in the Kesar library in Katmandu, Nepal. Almost every one of the modern-day yoga schools and texts does have this posture as a constant fixture and regular practice. Every intermediate session today has some version of Chakrasana practiced on a regular basis. Outside of the yoga texts, we find similar movements in many Indian, Egyptian, and European cultures.  

Natya Shatra which is the science of dance by Bharatha muni mentions 108 karanas in his text. These karanas are movements used in dance. Out of these, one of the movements named Argala that resembles a wheel posture. It’s quite similar to our modern-day cartwheel.

Interestingly, we also find images similar to chakra asana in ancient Egyptian artifacts. Find below an image of a pottery relic that has a depiction of a slave girl performing something similar to Chakrasana. 

Late 19th century contortionists also had similar movements as part of their performance. Find the image that has postures very similar to Chakrasana and a much more complex version of it. 

History of Chakrasana

Practice tip

While training for chakras ensure that:

  1. You have a firm and stable mat, avoid practicing on a cloth mat.
  2. Dry up your hands and feet so that they don’t slip while practicing.
  3. Ensure you have enough energy left before you go into the asana. 
  4. Practice dynamic movements going in and out of asanas, without holding while still learning to do Chakrasana pose.
  5. Practice at least 2-3 rounds in each session with proper preparation and counterposes. 

Practice Chakrasana and other advanced poses safely under the guidance of a trained teacher in an online yoga class or practice at your nearest yoga centre and reap the benefits of yoga.

What are the benefits of Chakrasana?
Chakrasana, also known as the Wheel Pose offers numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. Physically, it strengthens the arms, legs, abdomen, and spine, enhancing overall flexibility, particularly in the back. By opening up the chest, it improves lung capacity, potentially boosting energy levels and respiratory health. The pose's stretch on the neck can stimulate the thyroid gland, which could lead to improved metabolism and endocrine health.
How many types of Chakrasana are there?
Chakrasana, or Wheel Pose, is traditionally a single pose where you lie on your back, then lift your body off the floor with your hands and feet, creating an arch that resembles a wheel. However, variations exist to accommodate different skill levels or target specific body areas. The Half Wheel Pose (Ardha Chakrasana) is a less strenuous version, supporting the body with hands on the lower back rather than on the floor. The One-Legged Wheel Pose (Eka Pada Chakrasana) is a more advanced variation, requiring one leg to extend upwards while maintaining the Wheel Pose. The Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) is often used as a preparatory pose for Chakrasana, where you lift your hips while keeping your shoulders and head on the floor.
What is the position of Chakrasana?
Chakrasana, or the Wheel Pose, is an advanced yoga pose requiring both flexibility and strength. To achieve this position, start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet flat on the floor, drawing your heels close to your buttocks, with your feet placed hip-width apart. Position your palms on the floor on either side of your head, fingers pointing towards your shoulders. Upon inhaling, press into your hands and feet to elevate your body, arching your back and aiming to lift your chest towards the ceiling. Try to straighten your arms and legs as much as you can, ensuring your weight is evenly distributed between your hands and feet. Hold this pose as long as comfortable, focusing on deep breathing and relaxation. To exit the pose, bend your arms and legs to slowly lower your body back onto the floor.
Who should avoid Chakrasana?
Chakrasana, or Wheel Pose, is a demanding yoga asana that requires considerable strength and flexibility. Due to its complexity, certain individuals should avoid attempting it. People with conditions affecting the back or neck, such as herniated discs or chronic or acute neck pain, should refrain from this pose due to the intense extension of these areas. Those with heart disease or high blood pressure should also avoid Chakrasana as it places significant strain on the cardiovascular system.
What are 3 benefits of chakrasana?
Chakrasana, also known as the Wheel Pose, offers several benefits that enhance both physical and mental health. Firstly, it strengthens various muscle groups, including the arms, legs, abdomen, and spine, leading to improved overall body strength and posture. Secondly, Chakrasana helps increase lung capacity by opening up the chest, which can result in increased energy levels and improved respiratory health. Lastly, this pose has the potential to uplift your mood and reduce stress. As a heart-opening pose, it's known to alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of wellbeing and tranquility.

How To Practice Chakrasana
Arunima Singhdeo

Arunima is the Founder & CEO of Shvasa. She was the cofounder and COO of which raised approx $20mn in funding from Accel Partners and Tiger Global, which was later acquired by The Mahindra Group. She was also a Vice President at Infoedge India - a successfully listed Internet company. Arunima is a Master Yoga & Meditation teacher with over 2000 hrs of practice and 1000 hrs of teaching Yoga. Her two passions are yoga and the internet.

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