Five Challenging Variations in Wheel Pose

Urdhva Dhanurasana, or Wheel Pose, is a challenging, powerful backbend that utilizes strength, flexibility, and endurance. However, every practitioner is different, and some yoga students crave a challenge even beyond the Wheel.

Wheel Pose can be modified and altered to increase the intensity of the stretch. Here are my five favorite variations of Wheel Pose when I feel like I need a little more challenge.

You can sign up for the 30-day Yoga Challenge if you are a student of yoga who wants to improve your backbends. You will be guided through all the different wheel variations. You’ll gain strength, you’ll challenge yourself, and you’ll always feel supported.

You’ll also work on other backbends that will increase your flexibility and open up your heart. It’s a good pose to strive for, but you should enjoy the journey to get there and be patient.

Straight-Legged Wheel

This variation is not only aesthetically pleasing but also helps to stretch the hip flexors and recruit more power from the legs.

Press firmly down into your hands to practice the Wheel Pose. As you begin to move your feet away from your hands, expand your chest. Try to maintain a very active core and balance your weight evenly between your feet and hands.

Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana

This difficult variation emphasizes balance and strength. Lifting one leg from the floor forces your arms, core, and opposing leg to work harder, creating greater stability.

For practice, get into the standard Wheel Pose. You can walk your feet closer to your hands as long as you feel comfortable. You can either keep your heels on the ground or lift them and balance on your balls of feet.

Keep your feet parallel and your legs at a hip distance. As you lift your right leg off the ground, press down firmly on your left foot and with both hands. Draw your knee inwards and bend it deeply. Once you are stable, activate your core muscles to help you maintain your balance. Then, straighten and extend your right leg upwards. Take a few deep breaths and then switch to the opposite side.

Eka Hasta Dhanurasana is a wheel pose with one arm.

This is a great arm strengthening, as you are literally standing upside down and only using one arm to hold you up.

Start with a wheel pose and slowly shift your weight to your left hand. Try to balance your weight by pressing the floor away from you. When you feel stable, fire up your core and rise onto your fingers with your right hand. Then, lift your hand off the ground (perhaps by drawing it towards your heart).

Hold for a few breaths, then release down and repeat the same steps on the other side.


This variation of Urdhva Dhanurasana helps to open the front of the body.

Set up your Wheel Pose as usual with a wall in front of your hands. Start by pressing up into the full Wheel and walking backward until your heels touch the wall. Your chest should be pressed back against the wall. This will expand and open your heart center.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Forearm Wheel)

Although this is technically a different pose from Wheel, Dwi Pada Visparita Dandasana (or Two-Legged inverted Staff) is a logical evolution. This posture creates a deeper opening of the chest and shoulders. It also allows you to stretch.

Press up to the full Wheel. Release your crown gently to the mat while maintaining a strong core and legs. Release one forearm, then the other. You can interlace your fingers or make a prayer pose with your hands. Then, use your forearms and press down on the floor to lift your head again.

You can either walk your feet out to straighten the legs or walk your feet in closer toward your hands (maybe even lifting one leg and reaching your foot towards your hand, if you’re super bendy, to catch your foot). You can walk your legs straighter by walking your feet out, or you can walk them closer to your hands. (If you are super flexible, lift one leg and reach your foot towards your hand to grab your foot.

Try out these challenging yet fun variations of the Wheel Pose. Always listen to your body and practice caution, safety, and patience. Never go beyond your limits. Try out some of these variations. You might be surprised at the strength and flexibility they can add to your yoga practice.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *