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10 ways to use a Yoga Wheel

Hitting the markets in 2015, Plexus Yoga Wheels are one of the newest editions to props in the yoga world. I received my Plexus Yoga Wheels as a gift from my husband a few months back and have been in love with them ever since. The 3 pack linked above came with a micro, medium, and standard size wheel. All three hollow cylinders are meant to enhance your yoga practice.

Yoga Wheels can be used for, but are not limited to, improving flexibility, mobility, and balance. The variety of sizes allows you to apply a range of pressure on specific muscles. The Plexus Yoga Wheel is mainly known for releasing back pain. All wheel sizes are 5″ wide which fits perfectly between the shoulder blades. Giving you the opportunity to roll out your back from top to bottom.

For yoga specific enhancements, check out these 10 ways to incorporate the Yoga Wheel into your daily practice!

1. Child’s Pose

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In child’s pose, the palms would lay flat shoulder-width distance apart on the mat in front of you. Here, you grip either sides of the wheel out in front and roll the wheel forward until you have reached your limit. This amplifies the shoulder stretch and increases your range of motion if practiced regularly.

2. Forward Fold

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Using a yoga wheel in a forward fold is a guaranteed way to intensify your hamstring stretch. In many cases, when the legs are extended out on the mat in forward folds, the legs are not engaged and the back is rounded. Throwing in a yoga wheel gives you the engagement in your legs by balancing on the 5″ wheel, while raising the floor to assist in keeping the back long and flat.

3. Downward Dog

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Similar to Child’s Pose, gripping the yoga wheel on either side really helps get into your shoulders to warm up at the start of your practice. In addition, this turns Downward Dog into a core work out!!! You can really feel your core working to keep the wheel from rolling forward out of reach. Constantly pulling the wheel towards you while balancing on the center of the wheel fires up all aspects of your core.

4. Upward Dog

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Now how else would we follow Downward Dog if not with Upward Dog? In the standard practice, the tops of the feet would be flat on the mat with the thighs an inch or so off the mat. Upward Dogs are great heart openers that can help with creating more lung capacity if practiced daily. By adding the yoga wheel (starting at with a smaller size and working your way up) you move into a deeper spinal extension.

5. Side Body Stretch

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Remaining static with the wheel under your tricep or forearm, this will give you an exaggerated stretch in side body. Stretching the side body benefits digestion, respiration, lymphatic, cardiac, and endocrine systems. So many benefits for such a relaxing pose! I love doing this lazy pose first thing in the morning.

6. Lower Back Release

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This position is very similar to the following pose but there is a one major difference: the positioning of the wheel. Here, the wheel sits between your shoulder blades right at the base of your cervical spine. This helps individuals who have chronic low pack pain from poor posture. You will thank me later once you’ve felt the back release on this one! It is very important to lay back on the wheel without putting yourself into a spinal extension. This positioning neutralizes your spine from any type of daily posture of flexion or extension. Whether you are constantly hunched over or constantly puffing your chest out, laying in this pose, for however long you are comfortable, will help your posture dramatically.

7. Chest/Heart Opener

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Remaining in the same position as above, simply by rolling backwards on the wheel centering it on the “bra strap” area of your back, you will be able to passively practice heart/chest openers. Most chest openers (such as Camel Pose and Bow Pose) can be quite intense and even dangerous if incorrectly practiced. The Yoga Wheel gives yogis the opportunity to work on chest flexibility safely. Once here, allow your shoulders to fall back and your chest to open. No need to place any pressure on your hands or shoulders holding yourself off the mat.

8. Wheel Pose Preparation

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Some individuals recovering from shoulder or back injuries may find it difficult to practice wheel without having the chest and shoulder mobility completely rehabilitated. Platforming your chest up on the Yoga Wheel lessens the load on your arms while still receiving the same opening benefits.

9. High Lunge

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Propping up the front foot on a Yoga Wheel in a high lunge works wonders for hip stability. This may look easy, but it was by far the hardest for me. Many yogis are flexible without having the muscle strength to stabilize themselves. As always, yoga is balance, so working on strengthening all muscles surrounding the hips (and core in this pose) is just as important as flexibility!

10. Quad Stretch

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In the same high lunge position as above, this time the wheel is centered underneath the rear leg just above the knee. Once again, this pose works on stability but also intensely stretches the rear quadricep. This is definitely a very active pose and is meant for yogis who are looking to advance their practice. I do not recommend this pose for beginners!

And there we have it, 10 Ways to use a Yoga Wheel! I look forward to hearing feedback from those who try these out. For additional ways to use Yoga Wheels and all the other benefits linked to the science of the Yoga Wheel, check out Plexus