The yoga wheel is not as well-known or mainstream as other yoga props like blocks, bolsters, and blankets, yet it can be a great prop to support as well as enhance your asana practice, and in recent years they have gained popularity.
In this article we will discuss:
- What is a Yoga Wheel and What is it For
- Types of Yoga Wheel
- Yoga Wheel Poses for Back Pain
- Yoga Wheel Poses for Strength
- Yoga Wheel Poses for Flexibility
- A Yoga Wheel Beginner Practice
Read on to explore more about this unique yoga prop!
What is a Yoga Wheel and What is it for?
The yoga wheel is a hollow, cylindrical yoga prop designed as a tool of support for both beginner and experienced yoga practitioners that is incredibly versatile.
What you can do with a yoga wheel is largely up to your creativity and imagination as well as your style of practice and needs.
Types of Yoga Wheel
How you choose a yoga wheel to suit your needs and your practice depends on several factors:
- Weight capability
Yoga wheels can range from $20 for this Gaiam one, around $60 for the basic model of the Dharma Wheel to some for over $100 for the Yoloha, which is eco-friendly and even comes with an instructional booklet.
The most common sizes available are 6″, 10″, 12″ and 13″.
Made of wood, cork, or plastic, and often covered in either cork or rubber for comfort.
When purchasing a yoga wheel, it is important to choose one that can support the weight that you intend to use it for. Some of these wheels, like the the popular UpCircleSeven, that can support up to 550lbs and is also quite affordable.
5 Yoga Wheel Poses for Back Pain
About 8% of all adults experience chronic or persistent back pain, and using the yoga wheel for back pain can be easy and beneficial.
#1: Extended Puppy Pose on Wheel
Uttana shishosana in Sanskrit, is a great posture if you need to stretch out your shoulders and back as well as create flexibility in your spine.
When practiced with a yoga wheel under the hands, this shape can become a deeper backbend, bringing more sensation through the shoulders and arms, and allowing more space for your neck as your chest melts further down.
#2: Modified Side Plank Stretch on Wheel
If you’re in need of a good side body stretch that is fairly deep yet very supported, try this modified side plank pose laying on the wheel.
Simply sit down on the ground with both knees bent to the same side.
Bring your wheel next to the opposite hip, and slowly lower your side body onto the prop.
Once there, you can bring your hand in front of you for support and a softer stretch, or lift it overhead, perhaps grabbing your opposite wrist to invite further sensation.
Breathe for a while, and then switch sides.
#3: Standing Forward Fold on Wheel
Standing forward fold, Uttanasana in Sanskrit, is a great pose to release the low back when performed functionally, and with the assistance of your yoga wheel, it can feel almost restorative.
Bring your yoga wheel right in front of your feet, and as you come into your forward fold, bend your knees enough that, as you shift your weight a bit forward, you can perhaps direct, or rest the crown of your head onto the yoga wheel.
#4: Bridge Pose on Wheel
Supported Bridge pose is a posture that helps open up the front body from the thighs all the way up to the shoulders and it has a wide range of benefits including:
- Stretches and opens the chest and spine.
- Strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Helps to relieve stress and mild depression.
- Improves digestion and stimulates the abdominal organs.
- Improves quality of sleep and combat insomnia.
- Stimulates the thyroid gland.
- Release discomfort due to menstrual cramps.
- Reduces anxiety, headache and fatigue.
- Great remedy for lower back pain or weakness.
- Stretches the spine from your tailbone all the way to your shoulders.
In this instance, the wheel can be used similarly to a block, yet the yoga wheel (depending on size) will allow for a higher lift of the hips opening up the front body even further, and the circular shape of the prop brings deeper support and stretch for the spine.
#5: Plow Pose on Wheel
Another great yoga wheel for back pain pose is Plow pose.
This asana opens up the whole of the back body, bringing a deep stretch onto the hamstrings, which in exchange will release pressure and tension from the lumbar spine.
Using your wheel for this pose will not only allow for more length through the spine as you reach your arms overhead, but resting the feet on the wheel will support your lower back further, letting you find more ease in the shape.
4 Yoga Wheel Poses for Strength
Many yoga poses require that we explore and improve our strength. The following postures will be enhanced with the use of the wheel:
#1: Urdhva Dhanurasana Prep on Wheel
Wheel pose is a popular yet challenging backbend that requires flexibility, focus, and strength.
One of the main difficulties when exploring this yoga pose is the strength required of both your legs and arms to lift up, and oftentimes, practitioners will appeal to potentially harmful alignment in order to get there.
When using your wheel, it will allow you to explore the neutral alignment of the hips and feet as well as the shoulders, elbows, and hands, giving you more awareness, and helping you build strength for exploring the full posture.
#2: Plank on Wheel
A fun way to practice plank that will challenge your stability and strength.
By bringing your feet on top of the wheel and then walking your hands forward until you find yourself in plank pose, you’ll be able to explore this most likely familiar asana from a new perspective.
#3: Handstand Prep with Wheel
But wait! Stay in that plank a couple more breaths…
If handstands are something you’re interested in, this yoga wheel exercise will rock your practice.
From your plank on the wheel, begin to draw your navel to your spine as you roll the wheel closer to you, elevating your hips over your shoulders.
On the exhale, rock back to plank. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
#4: Crow Pose on Wheel
Do you want to challenge your grip in crow pose?
Bring your yoga wheel to lay flat on the floor, in the position that it cannot roll.
Instead of planting your hands on the ground or blocks to practice your crow, try grabbing the edge of the wheel and flying from there instead.
Have some fun!
4 Yoga Wheel Poses for Flexibility
Flexibility of the body improves mobility, posture, muscle coordination, reduces the risk of injuries and muscle soreness.
Here are a few yoga wheel poses to increase it.
#1: Lizard with Wheel (1&2)
To practice lizard pose, you can use the yoga wheel in a couple different ways:
- As you would a block; resting your forearms on the wheel, and moving a bit back and forth to stretch out your foot, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors.
- For a deeper stretch especially through the psoas, bring the wheel under the top of your back foot or further up the front of your back leg.
#2: Hanumanasana Prep on Wheel
The splits, or hanumanasana in sanskrit, is an advanced yoga asana that requires a great deal of flexibility, strength and endurance.
One of the best ways to prepare for this deep posture is half splits, a shape that can support you in building the strength and flexibility required for the full pose, as well as deepen your awareness of proper and healthy alignment.
Using the wheel under your front foot or calf will certainly deepen the stretch, but how far you glide forward is always up to you.
Feel free to use blocks under your hands to give yourself more stability.
#3: Baddha Natarajasana B with Wheel
Using your yoga wheel as you would a yoga belt, practicing Natarajasana, or King Dancer’s pose, with this prop, can help you build the shoulder rotation and the flexibility required to get into this deep backbend and balancing posture.
When grabbing the wheel instead of your foot, you help bridge the gap, and it can allow you to feel what it’s like to be in the full asana.
#4: Parivrtta Hasta Padangustasana with Wheel
Another way to use your yoga wheel like a yoga strap is in revolved standing hand to big toe posture.
In this shape, the challenge is oftentimes grabbing the foot and at the same time finding extension through the free leg.
With your yoga wheel, you can once again bridge the gap.
A Yoga Wheel Beginner Practice
Once you’ve found your perfect yoga wheel and have explored some of the exercises and easy ideas suggested above, consider taking an online class.
Here are three of our favorites:
10 Minute Yoga Wheel Flow For Beginners
Yoga Wheel Class for Flexibility & Strength