You've mastered downward-facing dog. You flow gracefully through sun salutations. But, you've hit a plateau and feel like you need something more. When I reached that point in my yoga journey, I started to incorporate more yoga props: the straps, blocks, and bolster pillows that help you achieve poses.
I know what you're thinking: banish the idea that props are only for beginners! They're actually the secret to taking your yoga practice to a deeper level. Intrigued? You might want to learn how to do wheel yoga.
What Is a Yoga Wheel Prop?
In addition to yoga blocks, straps, mats, and bolsters, wheels are simply another prop to add to your practice. They're sturdy, doughnut-shaped tools that come in a variety of diameters to accommodate various positions and goals. It takes some finessing to understand when, where, and how to put pressure on the wheel, which requires the guidance of a trained yoga instructor before tackling wheel yoga on your own.
I visited with two certified yoga instructors from the studio where I practice and learned that incorporating a yoga wheel into your favorite poses adds fluidity and a new level of stability and grace. The wheel can assist in diffusing tightness in your back, chest, shoulders, abdomen, and hip flexors. It's a common prop used to massage the spine, deepen back bends, and assist in heart-opening poses. When used as a balancing tool in triangle or tree pose, it tests your mobility, patience, and focus.
What to Know about Wheel Yoga
Before taking a wheel for a spin, consult with your healthcare professional. Explain that this prop will put controlled pressure on specific areas of the body for short periods of time. Many beginning yoga wheel classes focus on the back, spine, and shoulders.
You'll find yoga studios and online practices incorporate the use of a wheel into their mid-level to advanced-skills classes, so it's best to know what's coming up before you add it to your flow, suggests Yogi Approved.
- Prepare for lots of supported back bends. They'll start out small, but get deeper as you roll the wheel to different areas along the spine. To get ready for this movement, warm up with a few cat and cow poses. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes that won't bunch up around your lower back.
- It's an upper body workout. If you notice a deep stretch in a forward reaching child's pose, you'll feel a similar stretch in your shoulders and biceps when raising your arms up and over your head, like in a reclining hero pose.
- You will test your strength. Yoga wheels can transform a static plank into a core-burning crunch when you rest your shins on the wheel and roll it back and forth. Hello, cardio!
- Balancing poses are refreshed. When you explore inversions, arm balances, or a steadier tree pose, the wheel can help you focus on building strength and alignment. Just be sure to have a spotter nearby, because you will probably fall off the wheel the first few times you try it!
Unlike other yoga props, a wheel adds movement to poses that are usually stationary. After your first class with a yoga wheel, you'll discover its playful versatility and want to find ways to incorporate it into your daily yoga routine.
I enjoy the moving supported bridge pose (see picture) with some gentle movement along my spine. When you learn how to do wheel yoga, use the #GoodMatters hashtag on Instagram so we can check out your practice!
Image source: Angela Tague | Angela Tague
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Why It’s Good
In yoga classes, we strive to find inner strength and push just to the edge of our capabilities. When we hit a plateau in our everyday practice, it's more difficult to feel this challenge. That means it's time to add a new variable like a yoga wheel! This uncommon prop can instantly revitalize and deepen the most common poses, while testing your strength and balance like never before. It's time to elevate your practice.