The word chakra has many meanings: ‘wheel’, ‘circle’, ‘vortex’, ‘whirlpool’, ‘spiral’ and so on. In the context of chakrasana, the best English translation is ‘wheel pose’. This asana is so called because of the wheel shape taken by the body in the final pose. At first you may think that this is not a very exact description of the asana, especially if you refer to the following picture. However, there are many people with supple spines who can easily grasp their ankles with their hands in the final position. When the asana is done in this manner, then the full circle is achieved, thus fully justifying the traditional name of the asana. However, we do not suggest that you attempt to perform the full circle unless you have a very flexible back. If you do so prematurely, you may snap a few bones and muscles and remain in a permanent backward bend.
Lie flat on your back.
Bend the legs and place the heels near the buttocks; the feet should be about half a metre apart.
Bend the arms and place the hands on the ground beside the back of the head; the fingers should point towards the shoulders with the palms flat on the floor.
This is the starting position.
Relax the whole body for a few seconds in preparation for performing the final pose.
Breathe in deeply.
Then raise the head and trunk off the ground by straightening the legs and arms; the feet and hands should not be moved.
Try to arch the back as much as possible to take the final pose.
Let the head hang between the two straight arms.
The degree of bend in the back can be accentuated by bending or straightening the knees, and allowing the shoulders to move over the arms.
Do not try to bend the back more than its flexibility will allow.
This is the final pose.
Breathe slowly and deeply.
Stay in the final pose for as long as is comfortable.
Then slowly return to the starting position by slowly lowering the body to the ground.
The asana can be repeated once or twice if you have sufficient energy and time.
Inhale deeply in the starting position. Hold the breath while elevating the body to the final pose. Breathe as deeply and slowly as possible in the final pose. Breathe in before lowering the body. Hold the breath while lowering the body to the starting pose.
Use of mat
We suggest that you practise chakrasana on a bare floor, for a mat or blanket can slip and cause injury.