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Traditional Sugarcane Pose requires a lot of flexibility in the hamstrings, hips and shoulders but is made accessible to beginners though the simple act of using the YogDev Yoga Wheel to “raise the floor up” to meet you. The circular shape of the wheel keeps you from leaning all your weight into it so you will develop your balance a lot more quickly than if you were simply using a yoga block.
Getting in: Place your YogDev Yoga Wheel on the floor about a foot away from what will be your first standing leg. Bring your hands to your hips and, leading with the other leg, tip forward into Warrior III. Bring the hand that is on the same side as your supporting leg down to rest on your YogDev Yoga Wheel. Bend your extended leg and catch hold of the inside of your foot; kick your foot into your hand. Now begin to open up your torso and hip until your hips are close to being one one top of the other. Make sure your neck is in a comfortable position; you can look to the side wall or down toward the floor.
Alignment: Just like in Dancer’s Pose, you want your bent knee to stay in line with your hip as you kick back. Keep a soft bend in the knee of your supporting leg. The underside of your torso should be long and your arm roughly reaching to your YogDev Yoga Wheel at 90° from your body. You do not have to fully stack one hip on top of the other when you open your torso up to the side of the room, although it is an option.
In the pose: Use your YogDev Yoga Wheel to keep the underside of your torso lifted and the top of your head lengthening forward. Think of creating space in your back as you kick your foot into your hand and breathe into the stretch you are no doubt feeling in your quad. There is no rush to get to the full expression of Sugarcane Pose right away; take your time to open up you body as you become more comfortable in the pose.
Getting Out: Start by turning your torso back down toward the floor. Release your leg, extend it out and with both hands on your hips bring yourself back up to standing. Take a couple of deep breaths to allow your spine to return back to neutral before doing a gentle forward fold as a counter pose. Repeat on the other side.
Variation(s): You can test your balance out in Sugarcane Pose by coming up onto fingertips or even lifting your hand away from the wheel all together. You might even try lifting your YogDev Yoga Wheel up and extending it toward the front of the room!
Benefits: Sugarcane Pose not only provides a delicious quad stretch, it helps strengthen all the little stabiliser muscles in your legs that improve your balance over time. The benefits of practicing this pose with a YogDev Yoga Wheel are similar to the traditional pose except that using your YogDev Yoga Wheel to “raise the floor up” helps keep your spine aligned properly so your backbend is safe and accessible. Many yoga practitioners feel that the added lift the YogDev Yoga Wheel provides also helps to free up the muscles in the hips so there is less compression through the hips when you open up toward the side of the room. It is a win win!
Contraindications: Spinal conditions should be cleared by a medical practitioner before practicing this pose with the YogDev Yoga Wheel. Aside from that, it is pretty well suited for just about everyone!