Back bending requires a thorough warm up to help you enter the pose safely and to help you deepen it with every hold. Your warm up should include the spine, but you will also need to warm up the supporting structures. For Wheel Pose specifically, you need to warm up your shoulders, wrists, hips, and core.
Exiting a backbend like Wheel requires a little stretch-out time post-posture to help the body release. There should be a twist to relieve the spine before you bring your knees into your chest and stretch out.
Here's how to build a sequence around Wheel Pose, so you can use this asana as your peak pose:
Sequencing for Wheel Pose
Begin with some graduated baby-backbends to engage the back muscles and stretch out the abdomen and chest. Try Sphinx, Baby Cobra, Cobra, and Upward Facing Dog. Hold each of these for two breaths before relaxing to your belly in between postures.
Next stretch out your spine in Downward Facing Dog for five breaths, hold Plank for five breaths to ignite your core, and take one Vinyasa, landing in a seated position. Now stretch out your shoulders by taking Eagle Arms on each side followed by a triceps stretch; placing one hand on your upper back while the other hand presses down and back on your lifted elbow.
Release your arms and spend five breaths in Boat Pose to continue igniting your abdominal and back muscles. Come back to your belly and hold each of the following back bends for three breaths coming back down to your belly in between each one to reset: Locust, bound-hands in Locust, and Bow Pose.
Stretch it out in Downward Facing Dog for five breaths, hold Plank for five breaths, take one Vinyasa, and land in a seated position so you can recline to Bridge Pose for five breaths to open the front of your hips.
Release and take your Wheel Pose. Hold for as long as you can before coming back to a Reclined Twist for 5 breaths on each side.
Pull your knees into your chest and squeeze. Round your spine to reverse the backbend and to open your shoulders back up.
End with Happy Baby to compress the hips and relax your low back.
If you thought there was only one way to sequence around Wheel Pose, think again! Check back next week for another fun way to get into the pose.
How often do you practice Wheel Pose? What do you love about it? Share with us in the comments below!