Ah, the almighty backbend. This pose is tough because it's a total body stretch. I mean, forget the spine flexibility required for a sec, and you'll see we also need ample space in the wrists, shoulders/armpits, and quads. Many of the common mistakes I see in other yoga poses are just easy alignment issues that people can quickly fix. The common mistakes in wheel pose, however, are often due to a lack of flexibility. That is to say, I think many people know how the pose is supposed to look, they just may not have the openness yet. If this sounds like you, don't worry - the flexibility will come with consistent practice, I promise.
I'd love to get more of a community feel around here, so I'm proposing something new today. Warm up first, and then take a picture of your wheel pose (here's how to do wheel pose) to see where you're at. Take a look at the above graphic and make the changes you can. Then, take another picture to see the difference. If you want to share, hop on instagram and use #YBCwheelpose so I can check it out. (Side note: who cares if it's not perfect?! Here's my less-than-perfect scorpion pose, and the subsequent improvement.) If you're still having trouble with the pose, it probably means you'll need to work on your flexibility in the chest/shoulder area and the quads.
There are two big tips I can give and they are:
1. Work on opening up the chest and upper body with poses like bow and this warrior 1 variation. The picture above is a simple chair yoga pose that works well for opening up the armpit/shoulder area, too. If you're looking for some yoga practices that may help, try the 20 minute yoga for back flexibility, or 15 minute yoga for chest.
2. The next tip has to do with keeping the knees and feet in check. I often see people's knees and accidentally splaying to the side which we really don't want because it can cause injury to the knee joint. To prevent this, place a yoga block between the legs as shown above.
Let's talk Is this a pose you're familiar with? Like it? Loathe it? What poses do you struggle with the most?
Related 4 Ways to improve your backbend