Step 1: Pick the location.
This is a pretty impressive looking pose when done right, so make sure you take the time to do it somewhere that will add to the impact. I chose to do my wheel at the Xinalani resort in Mexico, where I was for 15 days as the start of my 500 hour teacher training. I waited until day 14, when I was reaaaaally warmed up, to make my move. There was the perfect little cove, gentle waves lapping at the shoreline, sun in the sky. Perfect. Obligatory yoga on the beach shots, coming up.
Step 2. Set up.
Now, like many, I have an aversions to the deep backbend that is wheel. Backbends often feel vulnerable -- heart open and exposed, putting it all on the line. The fear of falling and breaking my neck. But I was ready. My walls had come crashing down during this training, so I had nothing left to lose. The waves retreated, so I set up.
Step 3. Pop up.
I could go into a whole lot of alignment points. Hands outer shoulders distance. Feet parallel. Press the heart back through the rib cage. Straighten the arms and legs. Belly button to the sky. Bottom line is, you just have to go for it. So I went for it.
Now, I'm not going to claim this is a great wheel. I would tell myself to draw the inner thighs towards one another, press my heart through my arms, add length to my legs. But hey. What do I know. I was there.
Step 4. Know when the pose is over.
Fact: doing yoga on the beach sounds pretty cool. Reality is, sand dissolves beneath one's hands and feet... especially when water enters the picture. So about 7 seconds into my wheel attempt, the waves started coming in, and my footing went out from under me. No harm, no foul, I though. I simply lay myself down, one vertebrae at a time, upper back, middle back, lower back, until fully grounded. I enjoyed a laugh at the fact that it wasn't nearly as graceful as it had been in the studio earlier that morning, hoping Dirk got a good picture.
About 6 seconds after releasing to the ground, celebrating the fact I hadn't broken my neck as the sand went out from beneath me, I got pummeled by a wave. PUMMELED. I needed ear drops. And it was totally worth it.
Step 6: Reflect.
Graceful? Not a bit. Fun? You betcha. A moment I will remember? Darn right. Tackling a former nemesis pose and finding joy and freedom is an incredible sort of release.
Big thanks to photographer and friend Dirk Hennessey for knowing to keep on shooting even as I was getting my ass handed to me.