What is the Yoga Wheel?

prosource yoga wheel

The yoga wheel is a more recent addition to the yoga world which has quickly become popular due to its ability to simultaneously help stretch, assist in learning yoga poses, as well as make poses more challenging. This makes it ideal for anyone – from beginners to advanced yogis.You don’t even have to be a yogi to reap the benefits. Its versatility makes it great for general stretching and exercise as well.

The first Yoga Wheel was developed by famous yoga master, Sri Dharma Mittra and his son, Yogi Varuna. It is a thin, hollow wheel typically made out of heavy duty plastic or wood.

The yoga wheel is typically used to help open up the back, chest, hips, and shoulders. It is also used to learn backbends, balance poses, and make challenging poses more attainable. Advanced users add it to their practice to enhance poses and make them more challenging. For the general user, it’s a great prop for stretching, increasing flexibility and increasing core strength through various exercises. It may also be used somewhat like yoga blocks to help extend your reach and provide stability.

Benefits of using the yoga wheel?

  • Helps improve overall flexibility
  • Opens up chest, back, shoulders and hips
  • Provides assistance and support for learning new poses
  • Can be used for core strengthening exercises
  • Assists in preparing for backbend poses
  • Helpful for performing headstand poses
  • Provides a fun way to get creative and enhance familiar yoga poses

7 poses to practice with the yoga wheel

Beginner Poses

#1 Back Extension and Massage

yoga wheel back extension and massage

    1. Sit on the floor with the yoga wheel behind your back.
    2. Lightly place hands on yoga wheel to stabilize yourself as you press your lower back against the wheel, lifting hips up off the floor
    3. Extend arms behind you, then roll backward slowly, relaxing your head and neck. Roll until hands touch the floor, bending at the elbows. Continue rolling as far back as is comfortable for you.
    4. Then, bend knees and drop hips to roll forward, keeping arms extended behind you.
    5. Continue to roll back and forth slowly, stretching your back through a full range of motion.

#2 Kumbhakasana (Plank Pose)

high plank yoga wheel

  1. Set wheel on the floor behind you, then position yourself on hands and knees, wrists directly under shoulders, fingers facing forward.
  2. Lift one leg, and extend it behind you onto the wheel so the top of your shin rests on the wheel.
  3. Keeping your core tight for balance, lift your other leg and place beside it on top of the wheel.
  4. Once balanced, make sure your body is in a straight line, core tight and not rounded or sinking toward the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds, or as long as you are able.
  5. To advance, lift one leg at a time off the wheel and hold.

#3 Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Upward-facing two-foot staff pose)

upward facing two staff pose dwi pada viparita dandasana

    1. Sit on the floor with the yoga wheel behind your back.
    2. Lightly place hands on yoga wheel to stabilize yourself as you press your lower back against the wheel, lifting hips up off the floor
  1. Roll to where your lower and mid back are fully supported on the wheel, and head is resting on the ground. Extend legs directly out in front of you and bring feet together, flat on floor.
  2. Bring palms in toward the wheel and grasp each side, letting elbows turn out slightly to each side. Roll back as far as you can comfortably can, aiming to set your forearms on the ground.
  3. To advance, draw feet in closer toward your shoulders and shift upper body backwards until shoulders are directly above elbows.

Intermediate Poses

#4 Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

kapotasana king pigeon pose

  1. Start in a kneeling position. Track the toes towards the back of your mat and keep them untucked.
  2. Place the yoga wheel in the area between your calves and ankles. Place your hands on your low back with fingers pointed downwards and thumbs on the side body.
  3. Begin to lift the spine from the hip up to the ceiling. You will start to feel your abs lengthen and belly tighten.
  4. Keep that core engagement and begin to press your hips forward, tuck your chin into your chest then take your gaze up and towards the back of the room. Work on opening the chest instead of bending deeply in the lower back.
  5. You can stay here in Camel/Ustrasana if there is enough sensation. You will feel a frontal body stretch.
  6. If you want to take it into full Kapotasana, begin to release your arms from the lower back and lift the arms up towards the ceiling and then slowly reach towards the back of the room. Begin to lower the crown of your head towards the mat below you. This will result in a deeper backbend. Place the spine on the wheel and place the palms onto the mat beneath you.
  7. Start to walk your hands towards your heels and cup them over your heels if possible.
  8. Take 5 breaths.
  9. To come out, slowly walk the fingers away from the heels and past your head. Press the palms into the mat to lift your spine off the yoga wheel. Engage the core and crunch the abs to come up. Bring the palms to the lower back and breathe.
  10. Repeat 2 more times.

#5 Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Bridge pose)

  1. The wheel will provide a deeper supported backbend and heart opener in bridge pose.
  2. Start laying on the ground and bring your heels to your glutes. The knees will be bend and tracking towards the ceiling.
  3. Plant the feet into the ground and hands are on the ground next to the hips. Begin to press the soles of the feet into the ground to lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
  4. Take the yoga wheel and place it underneath your middle and lower spine.
  5. Take 10 breaths and repeat 1 more time.

#6 Sirsasana (Headstand)

  1. Kneel on the floor and place the wheel directly in front of you. Use hands to hold wheel in place on the floor, forearms and elbows on the floor with elbows directly under shoulders.
  2. Place head on the floor between forearms, then slowly draw your feet in toward your body until you can kick or lift them into the air, extending straight above shoulders, and hold as long as you are comfortable.
  3. If needed, rest upper back and neck against the wheel to maintain balance.
  4. Tip: If this is still too difficult or you have trouble holding the wheel in place, set it against a wall to get used to the feeling and form before using it without support.

Advanced Poses

#7 Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock pose)

  1. You can practice this posture next to the wall if you’re new to yoga. You can also do it away from the wall if you have a stable headstand.
  2. Take the wheel and place it at the top of your mat with the curved side facing you.
  3. Start on your knees and grab the wheel on either side and plant your forearms into the ground.
  4. Look between your forearms and start to lift the knees off the ground and take steps towards the wheel.
  5. Once you feel you can’t go any further, stay here in dolphin pose or begin to lift one leg at a time.
  6. If you feel comfortable in the inversion, begin to lift one leg high then slowly pivot the hips over the shoulders and bring both legs towards the ceiling. Bring the legs together and come into pinchamayurasana. Breathe for 10 breaths.
  7. Come out by lowering one leg at a time or piking the legs down (both legs down slowly by using core control)
  8. The crown of the head will be supported by the wheel. This posture is a deep chest opener and will help you build arm strength.

Where can I find the Yoga Wheel?

The yoga wheel is perfect for those interested in advancing their yoga practice or just increasing general flexibility.  Buy one today!