Form is everything in yoga (technically, form is everything in any workout, but that goes double for the centuries-old postures). Misplacing a limb (even slightly) on your yoga mat, especially with repetition, can really work against you over time. And that's exactly why we tapped yogi Andrea Russell to set us straight (or, properly arched?) about how to execute one of the most deceivingly simple poses properly (wheel pose, we're looking at you).
In the latest episode of the Well+Good video series The Right Way, Russell explains that this pose can be trickier for yogis than it looks. "My students are struggling, they're trying to come straight up, their hips are going all sorts of ways—it doesn't feel too great," she says.
The most common mistakes in wheel pose
To help remedy the situation, Russel calls out the four most common mistakes that she sees:
1. The feet are too far apart from one another.
2. The knees are spread too wide.
3. The hands, placed back by the ears, are either too wide or too narrow.
4. The elbows are splayed.
With any or all of the above positioning, wheel pose can be problematic, and Russell also notes that if proper technique is not achievable, you might want to hold off on wheel pose altogether and opt for something simpler instead. "If your palms aren't completely flat, maybe you're not quite ready," she say. "Pay attention to how your body's feeling in the practice, and if it's not feeling right maybe stick with a bridge pose or stay resting on the top of your head, taking a few deep breaths to get the opening in your chest."
In short, wheel pose shouldn't hurt or feel like you're having to over extend yourself too much. Now that you know the warning signs of improper technique, watch the video to find out what perfect form in wheel pose should look like. And if you can't get it right on your first try, worry not. "Wheel pose will be there for you every day—feel free to come back to it," says Russell. "Watch this video as many times as you like."
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