I woke up last Saturday morning thinking about those cool Pinterest pins which you just have to click on, especially if it promises ten nuggets of new information, or a list of some type.
I wondered how I could present something useful in a yoga context. Then I remembered when the wisteria was plump and purple last summer, I made a sped up movie of my wheel practice learnt from Irena Trobnikov at the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City. I made several searches on line looking for more information about wheel poses and found it difficult to source a comprehensive overview of the transitions and variations the wheel allows.
There is a floating and rolling quality to the way the wheel literally elevates lunges, backbends and inversions. Over time, many of these movements became as automatic as riding a bike. I wanted to capture the information I learnt before I forgot what it’s like to be a beginner. This is perhaps the essence of good teaching – it is the act of remembering what it is like not to know.
With this motivation, I took screen shots of my practice and set about to label the poses as I understand them from a hatha and vinyasa perspective. I realised I probably have several wheel articles to write from that one practice. For this post, I sought out ten lunges you can practice at home using this short and simple sequence.
Start off with Get Low High Lunge to strengthen the lower body, build heat and offer stability in this balancing pose.
Keeping the toes tucked, lower the back knee into a Dynamic Arm Raise in Low Lunge.
Flow directly to Get Tall Low Lunge, checking in with your shoulders and using the wheel as a weight to tone the arms. Come forward through your wheel vinyasa sequence (for another post) and move through the same sequence on the opposite side.
When the body is warmed up, gradually build from a Dynamic Arm Raise in High Lunge to a Back Bend High Lunge.
You are now ready to follow through with a Back Bend in Low Lunge from the high lunge. Try not to ‘jerk’ the shoulders back and to let the weight of the wheel over hide gravity causing excessive shoulder opening with no foundation in the lower body. Counteract this by scissoring the legs towards each other, energetically wrapping the muscles of the thighs around the femur. Keep grounding down through the legs, engaging the rectus abdominus muscles while maintaining lightness in the shoulders and arms.
Bring the awareness back into your foundation by moving through the next set of lunges helping to maintain hip stability. Start by hugging the wheel in between the calf and ham strings, squeezing in towards the centre of the wheel in a Lizard Lunge Squeeze. The hands stay on the ground and you are focusing on an isometric engagement of the front leg in towards the wheel. At the same time, the back knee stays lifted, the leg engaged and the back heal moving away from the centre.
After a strong engagement of the entire body has been established, the back knee can lower and the front bent knee, still squeezing in towards the wheel, can come into Lizard Lunge Wing Open.
If your intention is to strengthen the back body stay with the same side and lift the wheel into an Asymmetric Squeeze Lunge. In this posethe fingers interlace behind the back for a shoulder stretch while the front hamstrings wrap and hug the wheel in. Therefore the sensation in this pose is of an asymmetrical balance. Complete this sequence with a release of the upper back into Lizard Lunge Active Arms.
Release the wheel and rest into child’s pose.