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Dear Urdhva Dhanurasana

Updated: Apr 4

Dear Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose),

We've really struggled over the years but I’ve never lost hope in our relationship no matter what we’ve been through. Low back pain has been a constant in my life. Working through Primary Series I came across low back pain right away in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) and was able to resolve it by engaging my legs and core more. With you it wasn’t as easy. Seemed like no matter what I tried it always hurt, caused headaches, SI discomfort and limited my range and time with you severely. In the beginning, I thought maybe it was just growing pains; Something I just needed to work through. I spent time in many prep poses such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) and Virasana (Hero Pose). I used blocks under my hands. Worked on different techniques using the wall. I tried swapping it out for different types of front body openers. I would feel good in these other asanas (poses) but when I would try to spend time with you again, low back pain, headaches, SI discomfort reared its ugly head again.


At one point my right arm ended up in a cast for 8 months. I worked on front body openers that didn’t require me to bear weight on my arms, such as the asanas mentioned above. When the cast came off, it felt like it was a good time to revisit you and start pushing from the floor again. At first I had to just get into position without lifting and just breath through the fear that came up with weight bearing on my right wrist. Slowly over a month or so I was able to lift higher and higher on the wrist until I would hit the point where low back pain, headaches and SI discomfort came back into the picture.  


I needed to go back to my teacher and get an outside perspective. Michael Lear gave me a lot of insight. I basically needed to get space between every vertebrae and strengthen my quads. Strengthening my quads was not really what I expected to hear when I’m trying to lengthen the front of my body. But he was absolutely correct. My quads were not strong enough to hold up the front portion of the posture and I was collapsing into my low back when entering and exiting the position. Because of an old whiplash injury, I battle with headaches, migraines and constant tension around the base of my skull. Without having strength in the correct places, it was not only taking a toll on my low back but it was triggering headaches from tensing the muscles around the base of my skull which were already a problem area from an old whiplash injury. 


The second issue was not having enough space between each vertebra. This was going to take a more subtle approach. I had to spend many months gently opening my front body over a stability ball. I would lay back over the ball and let gravity help me get the space I needed to spend time safely with you again. An added benefit to spending time on the ball is that my neck adjusted itself after a little bit of time there. I would have never discovered this neck adjustment would happen if I didn’t get this break from our relationship. Now that is my 

“go to” place when my neck feels out of whack. After about 5 months of strengthening my quads and laying over the stability ball, I felt like I was ready to visit with you again.


Finally once we were reunited it felt better than it ever did before. I understood why anyone would possibly like and want to spend time with you. You actually feel good and you do great things for my posture. Taking those few steps away from you and working in a different way was exactly what I needed. 


Urdhva Dhanurasana, I’ve learned some major lessons from you. You’ve taught me to respect my boundaries and to let go of what doesn’t feel right. I respect and appreciate you. Because of you I am able to understand many symptoms that might come up for my students when they spend time with you. And for the students who like you right away, I can help them appreciate the gift you are giving them with the ease and grace they come across. 



Thank you for keeping it real with me and making me navigate a different path.


Love,

Samantha

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