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I remember seeing pictures of yogis on social media using the yoga wheel, mostly doing backbends and a few balance poses. I was really interested to see for myself what the yoga wheel was all about, but the only wheels I saw were very expensive. $80 to $120 was a lot of money for just a prop to use in my yoga practice, so I didn’t pursue purchasing one.
Time passed and I totally forgot about the wheels until I participated in a Yoga for Veterans fundraising event, where one of the raffle prizes was a ProsourceFit Yoga Wheel ($26). I put all my tickets in the box, hoping to win it because I still wanted to see what this yoga prop was all about. My friend Kathy won the wheel, but she had just purchased one herself. I won yoga blocks, which she didn’t have yet, so we traded.
I was super excited! Then I got home and put it on my mat and thought “Now what?” I watched videos on YouTube and looked at pictures on Instagram. Back bends and shoulder stretches were all I could really find out there on social media for how to use it.
One day, after teaching my regular yoga class, a few of my more adventurous students started to experiment and try to do different things with the wheel, but I still didn’t think we were using the yoga wheel to its full potential.
The following week I started incorporating it as a tool in my regular practice, and discovered that it was very therapeutic. I could use it like a foam roller, a yoga strap, and as an extension of my body to maximize my capabilities. Over the next few months I worked on my own and with a select group of students, playing with the wheel and adding it here and there into my class structure. Sometimes we’d use it as a leg support in crescent pose, in low lunge for a quad stretch, or even for standing on and balancing!
I decided to offer a whole class with this unique prop not normally seen or put to use in studios. I wanted to expand on its usage and put it in a flow. I design my flows with only the movement of the body in consideration, considering what will feel good, and I knew the wheel could do just that. Not all yogis have flexible, strong bodies, but good instructors can create classes with props that make poses easier and more achievable.
Here are some of my favorite exercises that I have discovered and now include in my classes. Try these on your own to take the yoga wheel beyond back bends and stretches for a much more useful accessory in your practice.
It is extremely beneficial is when we use the wheel at three different points to massage the legs, since the hamstrings and calves are so tight for many of us. This can also help to stretch and prepare you for half splits pose. After placing the wheel under the thigh, we use a lot of core strength to massage the leg back and forth. Next, we move on to the calf and then finish with the heel.
In this pose, the wheel goes where you would normally have a block, just next to your front foot. Placing your hand here for support helps to lengthen the body and give yourself space instead of collapsing in the pose because the wheel is higher than a block.
You can flow straight from triangle pose to half moon, still using the wheel as your base of support. Again, because the wheel is higher than a block, it helps with proper alignment.
A more challenging move for both the core and arms is putting your feet on the wheel in a plank pose. From there, you can lower down to chaturanga like you would in a normal sun salutation, then push back up to a plank. In either of these positions, I also like to play with lifting one leg at a time.
Teaching in my own studio, I am getting requests for exclusively yoga wheel based classes! Expanding on my love of this prop, I am currently working on a yoga certification curriculum and hope to have it out and available this year.
For more ways to use the Yoga Wheel, watch the ProsourceFit “How To” Video.
~Georgina Shaffer, ERYT-200 Certified YACEP Owner & Operator of Azul Sup & Yoga Azulsupyoga.com