Chakrasana (Backward Somersault) presents both a physical and psychological challenge to many. Chakra means “wheel,” which correlates to both the rolling action of the somersault and the circular shape of the spine as you perform the pose. One way to create this roundness and begin practicing the pose is to use a blanket, much as you would in Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand).
Place the blanket under your shoulders so the neck and head extend beyond it onto your mat. Once you have your blanket set up, bring the legs overhead into Halasana (Plow Pose). To get more roundness in the spine, bend the knees and bring them toward the ears. Place the hands on the mat underneath the shoulders and bring the elbows over the wrists. Resist the tendency for the elbows to splay apart in Chakrasana—this only weakens the work of the hands and arms and puts more pressure on the neck, and your hands are the primary source of leverage here to roll the body over.
Keep the chin pressed firmly against the top of the chest and gaze at the navel to protect the neck. Press the back of the head against the floor and push into your hands to roll yourself over. It’s a good idea to use a soft surface (carpet or grass) when learning this pose.
A critical element when performing the pose is learning how to use the breath effectively. Since Chakrasana is traditionally used at the end of a vinyasa sequence, you should already have a steady breathing pattern established.
To try the pose without props, start by lying on your back. As you inhale, lift the legs until they are parallel to the floor, then exhale as you push through the hands and roll over. The toes should point in the direction you want to travel—in this case the junction of the wall and the floor behind you. Push through both hands equally, and do not turn your head to see where you are going or you risk injuring your neck.
The last crucial part of Chakrasana is learning to turn the wheel from the center. As you exhale and roll, firmly contract the lower belly and pelvic floor to make the spine round (in flexion). This helps drive your body over itself, just like driving a wheel from the hub. Keep the muscles of the pelvis floor and lower abdomen engaged during Chakrasana to ensure that there is strength in the center of the wheel.
Excerpt from Yoga Journal Article, Learning Chakrasana by Tim Miller
“Penetration of our mind is our goal, but in the beginning to set things in motion, there is no substitute for sweat.”
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
“Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.”
“True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness.”
“Nothing can be forced, receptivity is everything.”
― B.K.S. Iyengar
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali tells us that when the fluctuations of consciousness cease we have the experience of our true nature, which he calls the drastuh. The closest English equivalent we have for drastuh is the Witness, or Seer. In other texts it is called the Atman or Soul. Ultimately, all of the techniques of yoga are designed to facilitate this experience of soul, or Essence. When we are fortunate enough to have this experience, we begin to realize that deep within us is an awareness that is unconditioned and eternal. This realization is a crucial step in preparing for death because it allows us to make the distinction between the Seer and the Seen. The mind, the body, and the emotions are all part of the seen, which has only a temporary existence and is highly conditioned by our experience. If we attach ourselves to these things, wittingly or unwittingly we are inviting suffering because they will all come to an end.
The key to practicing a highly physical discipline like hatha yoga without becoming more attached to our physical form is to recognize that the intention of this practice is the refinement of awareness. Asana and pPranayama are forms of tapas (which is translated literally “to burn”)–physical practices that are done for the purpose of purification. Patanjali tells us that tapas eliminates impurities and cleanses and strengthens the Indriyas (the organs of perception), which include the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, and mind. When the Indriyas are clean and strong, our discriminative faculty is greatly enhanced. We can move easily and clearly distinguish between the Seer and the Seen.
We begin to recognize that we are not the form we animate, but the force of animation itself. We have a body, but we are consciousness. The body is born; it grows, ages, and dies. The seer watches this process dispassionately. Pattabhi Jois says, “The body is just a rented house.” Through the practice of hatha yoga, we keep the body clean and healthy so it lasts a long time, and at the same time we refine our awareness so we can realize that what dies is the outer covering. Essence endures.
Excerpt from Yoga Journal Article How Yoga Can Prepare Us For Death, by Tim Miller
Nauli is one of the Kriyas or Shatkarma (cleaning exercises) from Yoga. The exercise is claimed to serve the cleaning of the abdominal region – digestive organs, small intestine and is based on a massage of the internal belly organs by a circular movement of the abdominal muscles. Nauli is generally done standing but it is possible to do it in other position like lotus, whereby the trunk is bent forward and is supported by the hands at the thighs. After a complete breath out the entire belly is strongly brought in and then the middle belly muscle is contracted and moved in a circle.