Wheel pose takes its name from the rounded shape of the body in the pose. In this posture, the front of the body is powerfully stretched. It helps to strengthen the muscles of the arms, shoulders and thighs. It also improves the flexibility of the shoulders, spine and hip flexors.
Wheel pose, like all backbends, is believed to increase your energy levels and counteract depression. It is useful for anyone who works at a desk or a computer as it reverses the characteristic hunched posture of desk work.
A less challenging variation is bridge pose, where the hips are lifted, but the shoulders and arms remain on the floor. The posture can also be made more advanced by raising one arm or leg.