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How Should You Use a Yoga Wheel?

Posted by on September 14, 2020 in Exercise and Fitness, Health with 0 Comments

If you’ve ever been inside a yoga studio, you’ll be familiar with yoga props, which include blocks, straps, and mats. What you might not be familiar with is the yoga wheel. This relatively new tool to the world of yoga practices is wide, but narrow, cylinder (made of wood, plastic, or a combination of materials), that’s roughly 12 inches in diameter. It’s used to deepen stretches to help enhance your flexibility. It offers a more challenging balance practice and support for difficult poses.

The trick here is to understand how you can incorporate a yoga wheel in your yoga practice safely and effectively. Instead of attempting a king dancer pose, as you stand with one foot on top of the wobbly cylinder, you can start with poses that will keep you grounded while you test the limits of your personal yoga practice.

4 ways to use a yoga wheel

Wheel-assisted child’s pose

Child’s pose is a classic pose that can help you stretch your thighs, hips, and lower back in an accessible and gentle way. When using the wheel during the pose, you can reach your arms forward on top of the wheel’s raised surface. You’ll experience a nice stretch through the chest and shoulders.

How to do this:

  1. Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching, and then sit back on your heels.
  2. Separate your knees (at least hip-distance apart) and then place the wheel between your knees. Also, set your hands on top of the wheel.
  3. Inhale, and as you exhale, lean your torso forward by using your hands to roll the wheel away from you as you lengthen your spine. Continue to lean forward until your belly comfortably rests between your thighs, with your arms stretched straight.
  4. Let your neck and head relax. Rest your forehead on your mat as your shoulders and chest experience a deeper stretch. Hold for a minimum of three breaths.

Reclining Easy Pose

An easy pose is a cross-legged seated position. It encourages steady breath and a strong mind. The reclined version with the help of a yoga wheel includes a controlled chest-opening backbend, and this helps relieve tension between your shoulders.

How to do this:

  1. Sit tall, directly in front of the wheel. It should be aligned parallel to your spine.
  2. Cross your legs in a comfortable position so that your pelvis and legs will feel grounded on the floor.
  3. Place your hands on your knees in a palms-up position and then close your eyes.
  4. Inhale, and as you exhale, extend your spine slowly over the top of the wheel. Use it to support your backbend.
  5. Allow the back of your head to rest on top of the wheel. Sit in this position as you breathe deeply for at least five breaths. You may also stay in this pose for as long as you feel comfortable.

Wheel-assisted fish pose

The fish pose is an excellent chest-opening backbend pose that will help you stretch your shoulder and pectoral muscles. Some people can’t maintain the standard pose on their own, while other people prefer a deeper stretch. The yoga wheel offers a solution for both groups of individuals.

How to do this:

  1. Sit on the floor, with your torso tall and your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Point your toes and rotate your hips internally, squeezing the inner thighs together.
  3. Place the wheel behind your back, parallel and aligned with your spine, with your hands holding it lightly in place.
  4. Inhale, and as you exhale, lean backward and extend your spine over the top of the wheel. Release your hands to allow the wheel to move with your body while performing the backbend.
  5. Lift your hips to deepen this pose, and allow the yoga wheel to massage and support your spine between your shoulder blades.
  6. Relax your neck and head and lead them against the wheel.
  7. Open your arms wide and place them in a position that encourages balance and feels comfortable.
  8. Hold for at least three breaths before you reverse the movement to come to a seated position on your yoga mat.

If you find this pose too difficult to balance, feel free to modify the exercise by bending your knees or place your feet flat on the floor, with your hips distanced apart.

Wheel-assisted upward-facing two-foot staff pose

For yogis who work toward more advanced backbends, the yoga wheel provides a significant help. Using the wheel to support your backbend, you can move into positions you might not feel comfortable trying without the help of the wheel along your spine or between your shoulder blades. This allows you to build strength and confidence in the working muscle groups.

How to do this:

  1. Sit tall, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. They should be directly in front of the wheel, aligned and parallel with your spine.
  2. Place your hands on the inside of the wheel to hold it in place.
  3. Inhale and lean your back against the wheel, and then release your hands.
  4. As you exhale, press through your heels and lift your hips. Reach your arms up and over your head with your elbows bend. Point them straight behind you.
  5. Continue to extend your spine over the top of the wheel so that it rolls between your shoulder blades.
  6. As your arms reach the ground, position your forearms flat on the mat and grasp the wheel using both hands to hold it in place.
  7. Relax your neck and head on the wheel.
  8. Engage your inner thighs and keep your knees aligned with your toes.
  9. Hold the position here, or extend one leg at a time for a greater stretch through your hip flexors and quads. Be sure to keep your feet and inner thighs engaged to avoid them from externally rotating.
  10. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, and then reverse the movement to release the pose slowly.

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