I’m a big fan of props in my yoga practice and encourage everyone who practices yoga to incorporate props into their practice. Over time, props seem to have garnered a bad rep in the yoga world; people have begun to associate props with being a “beginner” or being unable to practice a certain pose. I am going to be sharing ways I use (and you can too) props in my practice. Today, we’ll start with 4 ways to use a yoga wheel in your yoga practice.
I am not sure exactly how long the yoga wheel has been around, but I personally became aware of them last year (2016). The Dharma Yoga Wheel popped up on my Instagram feed and everyone seemed to have one or was talking about on.
I wanted one for a while, specifically to deepen my backbend practice and finally won one through a yoga challenge on Instagram. I can’t tell you how excited I was and how awesome the wheel has been to my practice. I think it initially was developed to aid with backbends, but like any yoga prop, it has a lot of benefits and uses. So, let’s jump right into my favorite 4 ways to use a yoga wheel
4 Ways to Use a Yoga Wheel
Draping myself on my wheel is one of my favorite ways to use it and I think it’s a great place to get started with using your wheel. It takes a few minutes to start feeling relaxed, especially if you’re new to using the wheel but if you give it time, focus on your breath and intentionally release any tension in your muscles, you’ll slowly feel yourself melting into the wheel.
Some poses to relax in while on your wheel include
Wide Child’s pose
Seat with your upper back, head, and neck resting on the wheel. You might initially need to begin with your butt lifted and your feet planted on the floor for support. As you relax into the pose, your but will gradually drop down towards your mat until you’re seating.
Lay with your back on the wheel and spread your legs and arms out beside you like you would in corpse pose. This pose feels great all along the spine as your spinal column begins to elongate and decompress from the seating you’ve been doing all day.
The wheel is great for supporting yourself in certain poses. You can hold on to it or place a limb or body part on the wheel to find better stability in certain poses; especially inversions.
Some poses to support yourself in with a wheel include:
There are 2 options here, both pictured above. You can either just hold on to the wheel which helps with keeping your forearms shoulder distance apart. Or you can also press your head against the wheel which helps with keeping your forearms shoulder distance apart and stabilizing you in the pose.
Headstand & Shoulder Stand
In headstand – holding on to your wheel can help you get some stability as you lift your legs up into the pose
In shoulder stand – place your wheel on your lower back and hold on to it to help you with feel stable in this inversion.
The wheel is also great for challenging yourself. By strategically placing an arm or a leg on the wheel, your balance or core strength gets challenged while holding certain poses. This helps improve your strength and balance.Some poses to challenge yourself in with a wheel include:
By place your extended leg on the wheel, the quads in your front leg and your core have to work harder to keep you upright and stable. Make sure the knee in your bended leg stays directly above or behind the ankle. Shifting the knee past the ankle places too much weight on that knee.
There are 2 options for challenging yourself in plank pose. You can either hold on to the wheel of place your feet on the wheel. I showed the second option with forearm plank but this works with any variation. Integrating the wheel into your plank practice challenges your core to work harder in stabilizing your body.
Practicing your core pose on your wheel challenges your balance and your core strength. You’ll have to focus more on your breath, maintain a steady gaze and really engage your core to stay balanced in this pose. I can usually hold this for just about 1 second.
Tip – press your thumbs into the side of the wheel to mimic pushing into the mat in regular crow pose. This also helps alleviate the discomfort of having the wheel pressing into your palm.
You can use a yoga wheel to go deeper in flexibility poses such as backbends, shoulder stretches and lower body stretches. Based on where you place your wheel, you can safely push past your comfort zone and go deeper in poses. Some poses to go deeper in with a wheel include:
Back bends of any kind
The wheel is great for prepping before you go into any back bend, poses like the seated backbend and corpse variation above are helpful for warming up your back and opening up your heart before you go into deep backbends like wheel pose and king camel pose. to use it in king pigeon pose.
Seated Head to Knee pose
Place the heel of your extended leg on the wheel allows for a deeper stretch in that hamstring. Start by holding the side of the wheel closest to you and slowly work your way towards holding the other end of the wheel.
Thread the needle
Where to get your Yoga Wheel
So, I’ve shared some of my favorite benefits and ways to use a yoga wheel, but where and how exactly can you get one? When I first started seeing yoga wheels, there was only one brand on the market – Dharma Yoga Wheel – I’m pretty sure they’re the original makers of the wheel.
Over time, more brands have cropped up and that has led to a nice decline in wheel prices. The Dharma wheel used to be a little over $100 and not it retails for $60. Due to the plethora of brands out there now – a simple Amazon search pulls up over 400 results – there’s no reason for you to spend a fortune on a wheel. One thing I like about a lot of the wheels is that most of them have started including a pose guide with their wheel.
This wasn’t available when I got mine and I would have had to pay extra if I wanted one. Pose guides are extremely helpful for getting you started with using a wheel. Below I’m sharing three yoga wheels in different price ranges with you:
Dharma Yoga Wheel*
321 Yoga Wheel
Beehut Yoga Wheel
*The Dharma Yoga Wheel is the one I personally use.
I hope these 4 ways to use a yoga wheel have either inspired you to use your own wheel more often to go ahead and purchase one for your personal yoga practice.