The yoga wheel has fast become a staple prop for yogis looking to deepen their practice. But for beginners, incorporating a wheel into poses can be intimidating. Let’s follow this comprehensive beginner’s guide to learn proper yoga wheel technique and safely incorporate this useful prop into your practice.
What is a Yoga Wheel?
A yoga wheel is a hollow, circular prop that resembles a wheel. It is usually around 12-36 inches in diameter. Yoga wheels are typically made of plastic, wood, or rubber. They have a slightly textured surface that provides grip. Yoga wheels come in a range of thicknesses from around 2-6 inches. Thicker wheels provide more cushion and support.
Benefits of Using a Yoga Wheel
There are many benefits to incorporating a yoga wheel into your practice:
Open up tight chest and shoulders
Increase flexibility in the spine
Release tension from the upper back
Deeply stretch the hamstrings, hips, and glutes
Strengthen core muscles for improved balance and stability
And let’s not forget the satisfying massage a yoga wheel gives to align the back!
How to Choose a Yoga Wheel ?
Yoga wheels come in a range of sizes and materials. Consider these factors when selecting your wheel:
Yoga Wheel Size
Wheels typically range from 12-36 inches in diameter. A 12-13 inch wheel is a good starter size for beginners. More advanced yogis may prefer a larger 15-36 inch wheel, which distributes body weight more evenly.
Thickness Provides Support
Thinner wheels around 2-4 inches thick are suitable for gentle backbends and flows. Wheels 4-6 inches thick offer maximum cushion and support for deep backbending.
Material Affects Grip
Plastic wheels are affordable but can get slippery.
Wood provides good grip and is eco-friendly.
Rubber and cork offer the best traction, even for hot yoga.
Texture Prevents Slipping
Choose a wheel with some texture to the surface. Super smooth wheels may require using a towel or yoga mat for traction.
How to Use a Yoga Wheel Safely ?
While yoga wheels provide amazing benefits, they also require some safety precautions:
Inspect for defects before each use
Use a tightly rolled yoga mat for traction
Engage your core for lower back protection
Don’t force any pose
Come out of a pose if you feel any pinching or strain
You are recommended to have an experienced teacher guide you when first learning yoga wheel technique. Using props like blocks and blankets can also help support proper alignment as you open your body.
4 Great Poses for Beginner to Try
Here are some easy yoga wheel poses to get started:
Supported Bridge Pose
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Place the wheel across your sacrum and lower back.
Inhale to lift your hips up into bridge pose, pressing equally into both feet and your hands. Make sure to engage your glutes.
Let the wheel support and gently arch your back. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Supported Forward Fold
Stand with your feet hip-width apart a few inches from the wheel. Exhale and hinge from your hips to fold over the wheel, letting your head and arms hang heavy.
Keep your knees slightly bent and let the wheel support your upper body weight. Relax your neck completely.
From all fours, place the wheel on the floor in front of you. Shift forward and lightly rest your belly on the wheel, hips in the air.
Stretch your arms overhead on the floor. Breathe deeply and surrender your weight into the wheel’s support.
Supported Camel Pose
Kneel behind the wheel and place it under your sacrum. Your knees should be hip-width apart.
Keep your hips stacked over your knees. Inhale and slowly arch back, bringing your hands to your heels.
Let the wheel help deepen the backbend gently. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
3 Yoga Wheel Poses to Build Up
Once you’ve mastered the basics, try incorporating your yoga wheel into these more challenging postures:
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor behind you. Place hands beside ears, elbows out wide.
Press into your feet and hands to lift your hips up into a bridge. Walk your feet in closer and rest the yoga wheel on your middle and upper back.
Continue lifting your torso up into the full expression of wheel pose. Focus on opening your chest and engaging your core.
Kneel behind your yoga wheel with your hands on the outer edges. Lean forward to place the crown of your head on the wheel.
Inhale, press your hands down and lift your chest up, coming into a deep unsupported backbend.
King Pigeon Pose
From all fours, bring your right knee forward outside your right wrist. Extend your left leg back straight behind you.
Place the yoga wheel under your left hip and use it to help open your hips and deepen the stretch.
For added intensity, try rolling over into the full king pigeon pose on top of the wheel. Make sure to engage your core!
Be patient and don’t rush the process of incorporating your yoga wheel. Focus on alignment, engage your core, and ease into each posture gradually. Over time, your balance, flexibility and backbending abilities will improve through regular yoga wheel practice.