You may have read in our blog about heart opening that the yoga wheel is perfect for deepening dancers pose, bridge pose, and fish pose, but backbends are just a small piece of the pie when it comes to amping up your yoga practice by using a yoga wheel. If you feel like you are ready to take your practice to a more fun and challenging level, try adding the yoga wheel into your vinyasa practice to turn fundamental yoga poses into advanced ones, and to make advanced poses that seem impossible a little more accessible. Here are just four examples of how to spice up your yoga flow by using the wheel today:
From airplane pose, begin to open your hips and move the wheel with your bottom arm. Stack your hip bones on top of each other and extend your upper arm toward the ceiling. Begin to roll the wheel forward to lengthen your torso as you work to take your gaze upward. Adding the wheel in half moon pose in place of a block adds more challenge and mobility into the posture. It causes you to use more core and to find more length in the lower rib cage.
Step one foot to the front of your mat facing forward, and one foot at the back of your mat facing out 45 degrees. Place the wheel outside of your front foot facing at an angle. Straighten both legs without locking your knees, and roll the wheel on a diagonal. Press your hips forward and open your chest toward the ceiling. Reach your upper arm skyward, and take your gaze toward your lifted hand. The mobility of the wheel allows you to organically grow this posture with each breath into a deeper twist, a deeper hip opener, and a bigger heart opener.
Plank to Downdog to Handstand:
Don’t worry, you don’t have to know how to do handstand to start playing with this transition. Instead of having your feet on the ground like regular plank, start with your feet on top of the wheel. Hands can be grounded on the mat or on top of blocks for more lift. Use your core muscles to begin rolling the wheel forward as you press your hips to the ceiling moving into downward dog. Keep rolling the wheel closer to your body and when you feel your hips stack over your shoulders, lift one leg toward the sky. Stay here and breathe on each side, or really amp it up by lifting both legs into handstand. This is one of the best core and shoulder exercises that you can give to your body, and it couldn’t be done without the yoga wheel!
This pose is one of the best stretches after warming up and doing some core work. Start by placing the wheel under your chest and then roll forward so that it lands under your belly. Place your hands on the ground as if you were preparing for plank pose. Bend your elbows and allow your chin to rest on the ground. Lift both legs into the air at the same time, and bend the knees so that your feet come forward. Stay here and breathe, or maybe even lift the chin off of the ground and begin to reach the toes toward the top of the head. Using the wheel in scorpion pose adds confidence and support for you to practice this advanced balancing heart opener.