Exercise has always been a topic of interest among one and all. So, it is no surprise that many exercise fads have come and gone-from hula hooping and vibrating belts to Zumba and Crossfit. Every few years, we get to see exercise and fitness trends.
While most exercise trends have enjoyed their two minutes of glory under the Sun, one form of exercise has endured the test of time-Yoga. Yoga might generally mean a form of exercise for Western countries, but in the Eastern part of the world, it’s seen more as a practice to seek spiritual enlightenment.1
Yoga, devised by the sages of India long ago, has also gained importance in developed nations, to help alleviate health issues that modern medicine might not solve. Yoga is derived from the word ‘Yuj’, which means ‘union’ in the Sanskrit language, signifying a union of the soul with the spirit. Yoga creates a sense of balance at all three levels; mind, body and spirit. Its utility of asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), dharana (concentration)and dhyana (meditation) makes it a complete system of practice.2
Chakrasana is a yoga pose with physical, mental as well as spiritual benefits.
What is Chakrasana?
‘Chakra‘ literally means wheel. The Chakrasana pose is named as the body assumes the shape of a round wheel in the final position. It is a backward bending pose where the spinal cord is stretched completely.3
How to do it?
For maximum benefit out of any asana, it is essential that it be performed using the proper technique. The steps to do Chakrasana yoga are as follows:
- Lie down on your back.
- Bend your knees with the heels touching your buttocks.
- Keep 12 inches of distance between your feet.
- Now lift your arms, bend the elbows and place your palms on the floor, above your shoulder on either side of your head.
- Breathe in and slowly lift your torso region, curving your back.
- Now straighten your arms and legs as much as possible, lightly dropping your head backwards.
- Hold this posture as long as you can comfortably, then come back to the starting position slowly by lowering your body and gently letting your head touch the floor. Lower the entire body this way, and then relax completely.4
A slight variation in the classical Chakrasana pose can be done by lifting the heels, instead of keeping them flat, in the final posture.
Do You Know?
- Chakrasana was mentioned in the Hatha Ratnavali around 1600 C.E (the classic Hatha Yoga Treatise by Srinivasa Yogi) as one of the 84 asanas of Lord Shiva’s classic Yoga.5,6
- When one performs Chakrasana, the maximum number of nerves in the body get stretched, thus benefiting them.3
- Chakrasana helps stimulate the spinal chakras.3
Benefits of Chakrasana:
Chakrasana is a full-body asana with numerous health benefits. Some of the potential benefits of Chakrasana are:
1. Benefits of Chakrasana in Aging:
Everyone wants to look youthful and young. No one wants people to notice their signs of ageing. Regularly practising Chakrasana may help delay ageing, making you appear fresh and young 4
2. Benefits of Chakrasana for Chest:
The backward bending pose of Chakrasana may help in expanding the chest region. It helps in stretching the muscles of the chest. It may also help in making it appear broad. It may also play a role in reducing stiffness in the bones and small joints of the chest.4
3. Benefits of Chakrasana for Lower back pain:
The backward bending wheel pose assumed in Chakrasana may help all 33 bones in the vertebral column. It may help strengthen the spine and keep it supple.3 Studies have shown that Chakrasana might benefit those suffering from lower back pain as it might improve the spine’s functional capacity.7
4. Benefits of Chakrasana for the Waistline:
Every person desires a narrow waist. If you are looking for a slender look, you must try Chakrasana. It is said that Chakrasana stretches all the abdominal muscles and may help in making the waist narrow.3,4
5. Benefits of Chakrasana for the Brain and nervous system:
The practice of Chakrasana may also be beneficial to the nervous system. The nervous system is divided into the autonomic nervous system, which is the nerve meshwork in the body that controls involuntary bodily processes like digestion, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. The other part is the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the complex grid of nerves that help relax the body after stressful or dangerous situations. Chakrasana helps the two parts of the nervous system work together efficiently.8
6. Other benefits of Chakrasana:
- It may help stretch the large and small intestine.3
- It may benefit the knees.
- It may help strengthen the arms and shoulders.4
Practising yoga may have the dual benefit of developing the mind and body; however, it should never be considered a standalone treatment for any health condition. Kindly consult a qualified medical professional for your health condition, so that they may assess you correctly and treat you accordingly. It is also worth remembering that yoga must be done under the guidance of a trained and experienced yoga teacher, who will ensure that you do the asanas using the correct technique.
Risks of Exercise
Some contraindications related to Chakrasana are:
- People suffering from heart issues must avoid doing Chakrasana until their doctor advises that it is safe.
- Since Chakrasana is said to stretch the stomach muscles, those suffering from any inflammation in the abdomen or abdominal hernia (bulging of the intestinal loop or any other tissue due to a gap in the abdominal muscle wall), must avoid doing it.
- People having high blood pressure should not practice it. Those taking medication for blood pressure should consult their doctor before attempting to do Chakrasana.
- People suffering from vertigo (dizziness) should refrain from doing Chakrasana.4 If you have had vertigo issues in the past, kindly consult a qualified medical practitioner before practising Chakrasana.
- Pregnant women must avoid practising Chakrasana as it exerts pressure on the abdominal muscles and may reduce blood flow to the middle region of the body. This is not advisable for the growing foetus.9
- While Chakrasana is said to be beneficial for the spine, it is advised that those who have had or are suffering from any back-related issue should seek medical opinion from a health practitioner before they practice this asana.3.7
A qualified and experienced Yoga trainer can help you analyse your risk factors and help you in doing Chakrasana with the necessary precautions.
Chakrasana or wheel pose is a full body asana where one curves the spine to do a backward bend. It is called wheel pose, as the final posture of the body resembles a round wheel. It provides a good exercise for the back and the chest and stomach muscles. One may practice this pose regularly, ideally under the guidance of an experienced Yoga teacher to avoid any health issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)?
The name Chakrasana is derived from the word ‘Chakra’, meaning ‘wheel’. This asana is named so because the final posture of the body resembles a round wheel. It is full body asana that helps stretch and strengthen the knees, spine, chest and the upper limbs4
2) What are the steps of Chakrasana?
The steps for Chakrasana are:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet 12 inches apart and heels touching the buttocks.
- Now raise your arms and bending your elbows, place your palms on the floor besides your head above your shoulder level.
- Now breathe in and carefully lift your torso, arching your spine.
- Try to straighten your upper and lower limbs as much as possible, dropping your head backward gently.
- Hold this position for as long as you can comfortably.
- Then slowly lower your torso by allowing your head to touch the floor.
- Come back to the initial position and relax.4
3) How many times should one do Chakrasana?
Chakrasana should be practised under the able guidance of a qualified and experienced Yoga teacher who can advise you on the number of times that Chakrasana may be done.
4) Can Chakrasana be done during pregnancy?
No. It is not advisable to practice Chakrasana during pregnancy as it may exert pressure on the abdominal muscles.9
5) Does Chakrasana help in reducing belly fat?
Chakrasana is said to stretch the muscles of the stomach area. This may help in making the waistline slimmer.2,4