When you walk into a yoga studio, you must have seen it to be adorned with various kinds of props- like mats, straps, blocks etc. But what might be an absolutely new yoga prop to you is the Yoga Wheel.
The yoga wheel is quite a new trend in the yoga world and it is quickly gaining popularity among both seasoned yoga practitioners and beginners too.
Ok, lets answer your queries on by one now. Starting with the first...
What is a Yoga Wheel ?
A yoga wheel is literally a wheel which is narrow but wide, cylindrical in shape and is usually made of plastic, cork or even a combination of materials and it roughly measures 12 inches in diameter.
However, as easy as it may seem to use, isn’t that in reality. The trick is to understand how to incorporate it in your practice in the most safe and effective way. Diving right in to difficult poses with the help of the wheel is not the way it works.
It is always better to start with simpler poses keeping yourself grounded and then gradually increasing your difficulty level- that’s how it works- where you can test the limits of your personal yoga practice.
In case, you are interested, do not forget to checkout our post covering the best yoga wheels and buying guide for the same.
How To Use Yoga Wheels?
As we have mentioned earlier, a yoga wheel is a narrow but wide cylinder shaped prop which may be made of plastic or wood or both. The basic use of a yoga wheel is to set it upright while you do your yoga poses.
However, make sure that you incorporate it into your practice in an effective way. Using a yoga wheel in your yoga practice allows you to deepen your stretches by enhancing your flexibility. It allows you a more challenging balance practice and it also provides you with support to accomplish difficult and complicated yoga poses.
Yoga wheel helps stretch the entire front side of the body. It also massages the entire length of the spine in a safe but deep way. Yoga wheels are very helpful for yoga practitioners because it helps them move deeper into heart opening postures, back bends and forearm balances.
But, the real question lies how does one use a yoga wheel in a safe yet effective way?
What do you actually do with it? So, it guide you through, we have jotted down 5 ways to use a yoga wheel. As we said, the trick is to incorporate it in the most effective way in your yoga routine. And here is how you can use it to your advantage to get the maximum amount of benefits from it.
Usage 1: Massaging the Spine
- The yoga wheel really benefits us by stretching our spine and rounding our shoulders forward. And this is how you can do it:
- Place yourself on the ground and bring the wheel directly behind you connecting the low back and the sacrum.
- Keeping the feet to the ground, bring your arms overhead and roll back and forth on the wheel. Roll as much as you can extending your spine and find a deep enough opening.
- Once you find a comfortable yet a challenging place hold the pose for 3-5 breaths. Once, your back has enough counter it with a child’s pose.
Usage 2: Opening Up The Front side of the Body
This posture is almost the same as above. However, this is more focused on breathing with the intention of opening the front side of the body.
- Stretch yourself like in the above pose.
- Hold the pose once you’ve found the interesting place of the stretch.
- Drape your arms by your side allowing the shoulders to soften and open.
- Take the legs long allowing them to be heavy and letting the hip flexors soften and open.
- Completely stretch out the belly- expanding and extending it.
- Hold that posture as long as you’re comfortable and then find the child’s pose.
Usage 3: Deep Back Bends
Back bends are tough, and deep back bends are even tougher rather impossible. And this is exactly where the yoga wheel comes of help making the impossible, possible in the most effective way.
- Sit in a hero seated pose as you bring the wheel to the lower back area securing it with both hands.
- Inhaling and exhaling deeply after few rounds lower your back slowly onto the wheel.
- Once the edge is found after a few rounds of inhalation and exhalation, bring your hands overhead and clasp the bottom of the wheel- the part which is closest to your head. Start walking down your hands further down the wheel till you bring your forearms to rest on the ground too.
- Hold the pose for a few rounds of breath and then slowly reverse the movement.
- To counter the deep back bend take child’s pose.
Usage 4: Flexibility Exercises
Yoga wheels also improve flexibility apart from stretching and heart opening aspects. Here’s how you can use it.
- Take a seat on the ground, extend your legs and place the yoga wheel in front of the feet.
- Inhale and bring arms overhead finding the length of the spine.
- Exhale and fold forward clasping your hands around the wheel.
- Pull the yoga wheel like a pulley and deepen and soften into the pose.
- As you deepen and soften take a few breaths and then release.
Usage 5: Strengthening Balance
Yoga wheel also helps challenge and strengthen your balance. This is how you can try and balance on the yoga wheel. If you learn how to balance on the yoga wheel, you can pretty much balance on anything and everything.
- Practice first with your hands on the ground till you feel steady.
- Once you feel steady test out your favorite standing or sitting pose on the yoga wheel.
- However, do this on a soft ground or with a wall nearby in order to prevent injury.
History Of Yoga Wheel
The yoga wheel was initially conceptualized by a yogi named Shri Dharma Mittra and his son, Yogi Varuna and therefore, the yoga wheel is often referred to as the Dharma Yoga Wheel. Since then, the yoga wheel has undergone quite a few incarnations in its design as per the needs and requirements of the yoga practitioners.
As mentioned above, it can be used in a variety of effective ways and therefore offers great benefits which include back/ chest/ shoulder opening and even quad/hip flexor stretching. It is also deemed to be a balance-enhancer and a tool for executing challenging back bends, arm balances and much more.
Over all, the wheel is not only beneficial but is very useful when you use it effectively in your yoga practices. Take it for a spin and you’ll know!
7 Key Benefits of Yoga Wheel
The yoga wheel is a versatile piece of prop which is for almost everybody- from yoga pros to athletes because this prop aide us to stretch deeper and release tension in hard to access places. Whether you choose to roll on it, lie on it, lay on it and breathe on it, it allows you to open you tensed muscles like no block ever can. So, here are the most therapeutic benefits of using a yoga wheel.
Yoga wheel helps to...
# 1 Do difficult stretches more safely
Yoga wheel allows us to challenging postures like back bends and inversions that we often choose to avoid because of their difficulty level. It makes asanas and poses simpler and provides for a safe way to ease people into these types of poses.
# 2 Prevent Injuries
The yoga wheel helps quite a lot by giving you support and keeping you upright that traditional yoga poses do not offer with traditional props or even no props. Therefore, there are less chances of having injuries with the use of yoga wheel when you choose to do difficult and complicated poses.
# 3 Improve our Flexibility
Adding the yoga wheel to your yoga practice in an effective way allows you with more confidence and safety for deeper stretches. It enhances your hip flexors which is the key essential to master back bends and inversions. Thus yoga wheels provide you with a lot of breakthroughs by improving your muscle flexibility and mobility.
# 4 Give Dynamic Support and Better Breathing
The most important benefit of using yoga wheel is that it offers simultaneous extension and flexion of the spine. Because of the large contact surface, the spine receives guided extension which in turn gives stable support in back bends.
In this way, this yoga prop contributes immensely in promoting a healthy spine. The yoga wheels extends a healthy radius of backward movement by opening the front of your body- which often seems to shrink because of our lifestyle. Our front opening enlarges the diaphragm and helps it work better which again helps improve our ability to breathe.
# 5 Get Stronger
The yoga wheel helps us by building up not only our strength but also our stamina. Practicing yoga with a yoga wheel even for a short period of time makes you feel stronger and healthier.
# 6 Stimulate Your Fascia/ Connective Tissue:
Did you know that our fascia tissue is mechanically stimulated by tension and pressure. This is because regeneration processes are triggered and the structures end up repairing themselves to a certain extent.
Therefore, using a yoga wheel relieves our tensions and knots in the tissue. It helps in massaging and activating our neck and lumbar area which are more susceptible to injury because of the strain and pressure.
# 7 Enhance Stability and Build Endurance
Using yoga wheel helps develop stability and strength by providing body balance. It safely familiarizes your muscles with the movements and absorbs the burden from the sensitive parts of the body during balancing.
Yoga poses are all about holding a pose for a substantial amount in order for it to benefit our body. So, yoga wheels assist your body when our muscles are tired during the poses, therefore allowing you to build stamina which eventually improves your endurance.
In a nutshell, the yoga wheel is rather a very useful and may look to be a very simple tool when it comes to work on your back bends. But in reality it is highly deceptive. It is true that it is super versatile to access various skill levels but you must know how to use it correctly.
No matter whether you are a seasoned, or an intermediary or a beginner to the yoga practice, yoga wheels provide with a win-win situation for all.
This yoga prop is indeed useful and now that you are more or less clear about how to use it, add it to your yoga tool box immediately. It is absolutely worth it and gets you going in all way possible.
Also, do not forget to read our post on How To Hang A Yoga Trapeze?