Reverse prayer can be a good way to prepare for wheel pose.
You can practice reverse prayer position (hands behind the back with palms together) while sitting or standing, or while bending forwards and stretching the hamstrings in parsvottanasana.
This arm position can be used to help stretch your chest and the fronts of the shoulders. It's also stretches the fronts (palm side) of the wrists.
The first part of getting your arms into position behind your back is rolling the arms inwards while reaching them back (and out) at the same time.
You could think of this as "internally rotating" the arms.
If you have trouble doing this with both arms at the same time, then practice first with one arm at a time as shown below.
When you internally rotate the arm at the shoulder, the front of the arms roll inwards. This means that the back of the arms roll outwards, away from the spine.
This helps to give you room so that you can bring your hands together behind your back.
You may find that if you rotate your arms inwards enough, then when you bend your elbows your forearms move behind your back. In this case, with arms rolled inwards, your forearms will be pointing slightly backwards.
I'd suggest that if you can't get your hands behind your back, then practice internally rotating your arms. Rather than holding the internal rotation you practice rotating and then releasing in time with your breath. Focus on feeling your arms and shoulders as you practice and see if you can notice where the tight spots are. Again you may also benefit by working with one arm at a time. Do not be afraid to bend your ribcage forwards as you rotate your arms inwards.
Even if you can internally rotate your arms you may still have difficulty getting your palms together in reverse prayer.
An option, shown below is to make both hands into fists.
When doing the double fist option, you can first have the back of the hands against your back.
Then flip your fists so that the bottom of each fist faces downwards (bottom left two pictures).
Then with both hands in fists progress to one hand open (bottom right). Note that with this option, with just the right hand fisted you could try starting with both hands to the right. Then gradually move your hands to the center of your back.
One you are able to do reverse prayer comfortably, another option for increasing shoulder and wrist flexibility is to move both hands to the side with palms together.
Move both hands to the right so that your hands are to the right side of your ribcage, but behind your back (shown below). Then try the same thing to the left.
Once you can get your hands together behind your back in reverse prayer you can practice moving your shoulders and elbows back.
You can do this using any of the above hand positions. I'd suggest that again you practice doing this in sync with your breath.
As you inhale open your chest (bend you thoracic spine backwards) and at the same time move your elbows back to open the front of your shoulders. Then as you exhale relax your chest and let your elbows move forwards (first two pictures below).
As you get used to the position you can keep your chest open and your elbows back. You can also work at sliding your hands higher up your back (last picture below.)
Reverse prayer can be a good way to prepare and open the chest for wheel pose.
Here's a general "lecture" on basic principles as I see them and how they apply to creating a "sensational" yoga pose (one in which you are as present as possible.)
These standing and seated side stretches are great for stretching the side of the waist.
Here's part 2 of the yoga routine used for active stretching. I use the routine as a whole for teaching my students the muscle actions that make active stretching an effective stretching technique.
Basic instruction for doing a standing meditation. I do meridian, chakra and anatomy meditations all while standing. This video goes over the basic set up for standing with balanced tension (or "tuned tension") throughout the body.
Some slightly different yoga poses to improve balance, including standing, kneeling and rolling.
Here's the first part of the yoga pose sequence used in the Active Stretch ebook.
Here's a quick look at why scapular stability and thoracic stability are important. They allow you to do certain types of yoga poses with greater ease.
Here's my latest video on scapular stability.
Some ankle stretches to make it easier to kneel and also to stretch the backs of the ankles. Learn actions you can do to make these poses more comfortable and more effective.
What can you do while kneeling? How many kneeling yoga posture variations are there?
I can't say that I was happy to have injured my knee recently. After all, I'm a yoga teacher and it's part of my job to be able to show my students what I'm trying to get them to do. And that's when I discovered that perhaps it wasn't such a bad thing after all.
My latest ebook is designed especially for motorcyclists. The exercises in this book are designed to improve body awareness so that you can control your bike with greater confidence, particularly in the corners.
Here's my latest video on plank pose (with elbows straight) with a focus on feeling the mid section (to remove excess lumbar lordosis) and on feeling and controlling the shoulder blades (for scapular stability.)
Some basic exercises for feeling the ribcage and controlling it and then adjusting it for a balance between openness and relaxation.
Has anyone ever told you that you can use your spinal erectors to help you breath?
This set of exercises initially developed because I had collapsed arches. But even if you don't have collapsed arches they can be helpful for improving foot awareness.
In this next set of exercises for flat feet the focus is on the heel bones and how to stack them.
I was asked, recently, if it was safe to squat if you have flat feet. Here's my answer. (this is also included in the tail end of the "heel stacking" video.)
Exercises for collapsed arches. I actually have collapsed arches and I learned how to hide them so that I could join the army. I often use these foot exercises as a prelude to balancing on the fronts of the feet or balancing on one foot.
This book bundle includes my 5 yoga basics ebooks for $52.00. (After clicking the "Buy the Bundle Now" button you can use the sliders to reduce the price to $52.00.)