If your back is very stiff then we strongly advise you not to attempt to perform chakrasana. Instead, you should systematically loosen up your spine over a period of time by doing other backward bending asanas such as dhanurasana1, ushtrasana2 and so forth. You can also practise setu asana.
At first it is a little difficult to raise the body directly from the ground to the final pose. We therefore suggest that you adopt an intermediate stage; from the starting position raise your body so that you can bend your head backwards. Then rest the top of the head on the ground and support the weight of the body temporarily on the head. From this intermediate position, it is much easier to attain the final pose.
Advice for adepts
If you can comfortably and easily do chakrasana in the way we have described, then you can accentuate the flexion of the back in the final pose by progressively and carefully moving the hands and feet closer towards each other. Be careful not to strain.
Direct your attention to relaxing the spine in the final pose. When you can easily perform chakrasana, then direct your attention to slow and deep breathing in the final pose.
At first you will only be able to stay in the final pose for a few seconds. With practice you can extend the duration in the final pose to up to two minutes. Be sure not to strain.
If you have sufficient time you can perform chakrasana two or three times. But do not attempt it if you feel even slightly tired.
Chakrasana is an excellent counterpose for all forward bending asanas. It is particularly useful as a counterpose to asanas such as halasana and sarvangasana which apply a tight foiward lock on the neck. Chakrasana stretches the neck in the opposite direction and quickly releases tension. If possible, try to do a foiward bending asana after chakrasana.
Chakrasana should not be practised by people who suffer from high blood pressure, heart problems, stomach ulcers, dilated eye pupils or hernia, or by anyone who has weak arms. Also, it should not be attempted by anyone who has recently undergone any abdominal operation or who has fractured any bones. Pregnant women should not do it.
In a wav chakrasana is an inverted form of dhanurasana (the bow pose). As such the benefits are very similar; therefore, to save repetition we suggest that you refer to the benefits given for dhanurasana.
There are, however, notable differences in the physical influence of the asanas. In the final pose of dhanurasana the whole weight of the body is supported on the belly.
This firmly and deeply massages the internal organs. Chakrasana also massages the abdominal organs but by stretching the outer muscles: deep breathing in the final pose, accentuates this process.
Chakrasana, unlike dhanurasana, is also an inverted asana. Therefore, a minute or so in the final pose will flush the brain with a freshly oxygenated supply of blood. This will help to improve the efficiency of the brain cells and in turn, the overall health of the entire body. Chakrasana gives an accentuated stretch to all the nerves of the back, including the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. The profound backward bend realigns any spinal discs and vertebrae that may be slightly displaced. This action is even greater than that given by dhanurasana.
In summary we can say that chakrasana is an excellent asana that can help to bring about optimum health of the body if it is done regularly. We suggest that you try to master it.