Meet the Yoga Wheel
You’ve likely seen or used different props in your yoga practice and know the benefits of mats, straps, blocks, towels, and bolsters. However, something that might be new to you is the yoga wheel. Let us introduce you!
What is a yoga wheel?
The yoga wheel is a hollow, circular shaped prop designed for aiding stretching, releasing tension, and improving flexibility. It helps open the chest, shoulders, back, and hip flexors in the most beautiful way. A yoga wheel can help you deepen into postures such as back bends and build strength as you master forearm balances.
Benefits of the yoga wheel:
From beginners to advanced yogis, there are so many advantages of adding a yoga wheel to your daily flow. Here are our top 5 reasons to use a yoga wheel.
1. It Can Help You Tackle Difficult Stretches Safely - especially wheel pose!
Backbends and inversions are challenging postures and many of us avoid them. The yoga wheel allows simultaneous extension and flexion of the spine. Due to the comparatively large contact surface, your spine experiences guided extension and stable support in backbends. This contributes immensely to the preservation and promotion of a healthy spine.
2. It Improves Flexibility
Similar to a block, incorporating a yoga wheel into your yoga routine will give you the confidence and ability to stretch further than normal. It improves the mobility of the hip flexors which is important when mastering certain poses (especially wheel and other inversions!).
3. It Will Save Your Back and Shoulders
Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your back and shoulders. Luckily the yoga wheel is amazing at ironing out knots and releasing tension in your upper back. Combat rounded shoulders by using a yoga wheel to aid deep stretching in order to reverse this effect.
4. It Fires Up Your Core
You can't ignore your core in yoga (or in life!) A strong core is crucial when it comes to the protection of the lower back and spine. A yoga wheel can help you deeply engage your core and challenge your body while moving through poses like plank, tree, eagle, and one-legged mountain pose. Performing these poses with your wheel will enhance your core strength.
5. It Increases Your Endurance
How can you increase your endurance during yoga? By holding poses longer. The time you are able to stay in a specific asana depends on your experience, strength, balance, and focus. The yoga wheel assists by taking some of the strain off muscles, allowing you to hold poses for a longer period, building strength and stamina… and deepening your practice.
Looking to add a yoga wheel to your practice? Here are three of our favorite poses:
1. Wheel-Assisted Child's Pose (Balasana)
- Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching and sit back on your heels. Separate your knees so they're at least hip-distance apart and place the yoga wheel between your knees.
- Set your hands on top of the wheel. Inhale, then as you exhale, lean your torso forward, using your hands to roll the wheel away from your body while lengthening your spine.
- Continue leaning forward until your belly rests comfortably between your thighs with your arms stretched straight in front of you. Let your head and neck relax, aiming to rest your forehead on your mat as your chest and shoulders experience a deeper stretch.
- Hold for at least three breaths.
2. Wheel Assisted Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
- Sit on the floor, your back straight and tall, your legs extended in front of you. Point your toes and internally rotate your hips, squeezing your inner thighs together.
- Place the yoga wheel directly behind your back, aligned and parallel with your spine, your hands holding it lightly in place.
- Take a breath in and, as you exhale, lean backward, extending your spine over the top of the wheel, releasing your hands to allow the wheel to move with your body as you perform the backbend.
- Lift your hips to deepen the pose, allowing the wheel to support and massage your spine between your shoulder blades. Relax your head and neck, leaning them against the wheel. Open your arms wide, placing them in a position that feels comfortable and encourages balance.
3. Wheel-Assisted Upward-Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose
- By using the wheel to support your backbend, you're able to move into positions you might not feel comfortable trying without the added support along your spine or between your shoulder blades. This enables you to build confidence and strength in the working muscle groups, ultimately helping you inch closer to your goals.
- Sit tall, your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, directly in front of the yoga wheel so that it's parallel and aligned with your spine. Place your hands lightly on the inside of the wheel to hold it in place.
- On an inhale, lean back against the wheel and release your hands, then as you exhale, press through your heels and lift your hips, reaching your arms up and over your head with your elbows bent, pointing straight behind you.
- Continue extending your spine over the top of the wheel so it rolls between your shoulder blades. As your arms reach the ground, try to position your forearms flat on the mat and grasp the wheel with both hands to hold it in place. Relax your head and neck on the wheel. Engage your inner thighs to keep your knees aligned with your toes.
- Hold the position here, or if you're comfortable, extend one leg at a time for a greater stretch through your quads and hip flexors, being sure to keep your inner thighs and feet engaged to prevent your hips and knees from externally rotating.
- Hold for three to five breaths, then slowly reverse the movement to release the pose.