7 Ways to Use a Yoga Wheel

If you’ve ever graced the inside of a yoga studio, you’re probably familiar with yoga props. What you may not have heard of, though, is the yoga wheel. This relative newcomer to the world of yoga practices is a narrow. But wide, cylinder made of plastic, wood, or a combination of materials that’s roughly 12 inches in diameter. Set upright, it’s used to deepen stretches to enhance flexibility, offer a more challenging balance practice.

Creators of the Yoga Design Lab yoga wheel offer the following poses:

1. Wheel-Assisted Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a classic, restful pose that helps stretch the hips, thighs, and low back. When you use a yoga wheel during the pose, reaching your arms forward on top of the wheel’s raised surface, you also experience a nice stretch through the shoulders and chest. Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching, and sit back on your heels. Separate your knees so they’re at least hip-distance apart and place the yoga wheel between your knees. Set your hands on top of the wheel. Inhale, then as you exhale, lean your torso forward, using your hands to roll the wheel away from your body while lengthening your spine.

2. Reclining Easy Pose

Easy pose is a classic, cross-legged seated position that encourages a strong mind and steady breath. The reclined version performed with the assistance of the yoga wheel incorporates a controlled chest-opening backbend that helps relieve tension between the shoulders. Sit tall, directly in front of the yoga wheel. Cross your legs in a comfortable position, so your legs and pelvis feel grounded into the floor. Place your hands on your knees in a palms-up position and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, extend your spine slowly over the top of the wheel, using it to support your backbend. Allow the back of your head to rest on the top of the yoga wheel. Sit in this position breathing deeply for at least five breaths.

3. Wheel-Assisted Fish Pose

Fish pose is an excellent chest-opening backbend pose that stretches the pectoral and shoulder muscles. Sit on the floor, your torso tall, your legs extended in front of you. Point your toes and internally rotate your hips, squeezing your inner thighs together. Place the yoga wheel directly behind your back, aligned and parallel with your spine, your hands holding it lightly in place. Take a breath in, and as you exhale, lean backward, extending your spine over the top of the wheel. Lift your hips to deepen the pose, allowing the wheel to support and massage your spine between your shoulder blades. Relax your head and neck, leaning them against the wheel. Open your arms wide, placing them in a position that feels comfortable and encourages balance. Hold for at least three breaths before reversing the movement to come to a seated position on your mat.

4. Wheel-Assisted Upward-Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose

By using the wheel to support your backbend, you’re able to move into positions you might not feel comfortable trying without the added support along your spine or between your shoulder blades. This enables you to build confidence and strength in the working muscle groups, ultimately helping you inch closer to your goals. Sit tall, your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, directly in front of the yoga wheel so that it’s parallel and aligned with your spine. Place your hands lightly on the inside of the wheel to hold it in place. On an inhale, lean back against the wheel and release your hands, then as you exhale, press through your heels and lift your hips, reaching your arms up and over your head with your elbows bent, pointing straight behind you.

5. Wheel-Assisted Half Pyramid Pose

If you battle with tight hamstrings, you’re not alone. Kneel on one knee on the ground with the other knee bent at a 90-degree angle with the foot flat on the ground, as if you were making a marriage proposal. Keep your torso tall and place the yoga wheel under the thigh of your front leg so the front of the wheel is touching your calf. Lift your front leg, and rest the back of your calf against the wheel before rolling the wheel forward with your hands so your front leg extends fully and the wheel is supporting your calf near your ankle. Flex your front foot and take a deep inhale as you lengthen your spine, then as you exhale lean forward from the hips, reaching your arms toward the wheel or your shins as you keep your back straight.

6. Wheel-Assisted Lizard Lunge

Lunge poses are excellent for stretching the quads and hip flexors while building strength through the lower body. The wheel-assisted lizard lunge is no different, but it adds a balance challenge and a deeper stretch as you extend your back leg in line with your torso. Kneel on one knee with your other knee bent, your foot flat on the ground, as if you were about to propose marriage. Lift your back foot from the mat and place the yoga wheel under your foot at your ankle for support. Inhale and engage your core. As you exhale, lean forward, placing your hands on the ground under your shoulders to the inside of your front foot. Inhale and press firmly into the wheel with your back foot, and as you exhale, lift your back knee from the ground, rolling the wheel away to extend your back leg.

7. Yoga Wheel Crow Pose

If you’re familiar with crow pose, you already know it requires a lot of balance and body awareness. The good news is, the mechanics of the crow pose on the yoga wheel are identical to the original pose, but the bad news is that this version requires even more balance and control. Place the yoga wheel flat on the ground. Squat down behind the wheel with your feet close together, allowing your heels to come off the ground. Open your knees wide out to the sides of the room. Lean your torso forward between your knees and grasp either side of the yoga wheel with your hands. Tip farther forward over your hands and bend your elbows slightly so your shins rest on the back of your upper arms. Breathe steadily, keeping your core engaged and your neck in a neutral position. Hold for at least five breaths, or maintain the pose for as long as desired.