In a yoga studio, you’ll find all sorts of yoga props – mats, straps, blocks, wheels, and resistance rings. While most folks, even beginners, are familiar with mats, blocks, and straps, wheels might be foreign.
So, if you’re a newcomer to the world of yoga rings and how they can modify and advance your practice, now is a great time to start the learning process.
This article reviews yoga rings, their common uses, and how you can start using one, so continue reading to learn more!
What Is A Yoga Ring For?
Yoga rings, also known as fitness circles or yoga wheels, are contoured circular or pear-shaped tools. These rings are versatile tools, making an appearance in yoga, pilates, physical therapy, and other forms of exercise.
They’re used as props for all sorts of activities, from achieving deeper stretches to modifying yoga poses. The contoured surface offers a convenient way to deepen stretches and massage sore muscles, making them ideal for physical therapy and workout recovery.
However, they’re often used in yoga to advance or modify various poses, hence the name.
Are Yoga Rings The Same As Pilates Rings?
You may hear yoga rings called pilates rings, but those are often entirely different from the broad, contoured surface of a yoga ring. Pilates rings are usually made of resistance bands fitted with handles for grip and comfort.
They have an entirely different use than yoga rings, so ensure you purchase the right fit for the intended use.
How Do You Use A Yoga Wheel For Beginners?
Yoga rings are versatile and can be used in various applications. You can use them to simplify and modify poses, which is ideal for beginners, or you can use them to advance the posture by deepening the stretch. Here are a few ideal ways to get started with your yoga wheel.
The half-pyramid pose is an excellent way to improve flexibility in your hamstrings, offering a deep stretch through the posterior part of the muscle. However, since many folks battle with tight hamstrings, the half-pyramid pose can be a bit much.
With a yoga wheel, you can use the half-pyramid pose to begin your journey to increased mobility and flexibility through your hamstrings. Here’s how to do it:
- Start in a half-kneeling position on your yoga mat, like you’re proposing to someone. Keep one knee on the ground, with the opposite foot planted in front of you, to create a 90-degree angle in the front knee.
- Place the yoga wheel under your front thigh, then extend your leg as you roll the wheel forward until it rests under your calf. You might find it easier to place the wheel in the right spot and swing your leg up but do whatever works best for you.
- Ensure the wheel is firmly in place, supporting your calf above your ankle. Your front leg should extend fully. When you’re ready, flex your front foot and inhale deeply as you lengthen your spine. Slowly fold the upper body toward your leg, reaching for your foot as you go.
- Fold as far forward as you’re comfortable, ensuring you don’t push too far and damage your hamstring. Remain in the pose for three to five deep breaths, gently raise your upper body and return to the starting position.
- Repeat the pose on the opposite side.
Upward-Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose
If you’re new to yoga, the prospect of a backbend might be daunting. After all, it can be scary to support a backbend if you doubt your strength. So, as you build your strength and hone your skills, use your yoga wheel to help build your confidence.
The wheel supports your body in the backbend, offering extra help where you need it. Here’s how to do it:
- Start seated on your mat, spine tall, knees bent, feet planted into the floor. Place your yoga wheel behind you, ensuring it aligns with your spine.
- While gently holding the inside of the wheel to stabilize it, lean against it, so your back rests on the wheel. Release your hands, exhaling as you press through your heels and raise your hips. Reach your arms over your head, pointing your elbows directly behind you.
- As you move into the backbend, continue rolling your spine over the wheel until it reaches your shoulder blades. When your arms touch the ground, rest your elbows flat against the floor on either side of the wheel. Grasp the inner portion of the wheel with each hand to ensure it remains in place, resting your head and neck atop the wheel.
- As you hold the pose, keep your inner thighs engaged and push through the heels while keeping your knees aligned with your toes. Hold the pose for three to five breaths or longer if you feel comfortable.
- When you’re ready, gently reverse the movement to exit the pose.
As a staple in almost every yoga session, the child’s pose is something you’ll soon be familiar with. The pose is a classic, offering a gentle stretch through the hips, thighs, and lower back. If you want to take things a step up and bring the stretch through your upper body, you can use the yoga wheel to target the chest and shoulders.
Here’s how to do it:
- Begin in a kneeling position on your mat, knees hip distance apart (or more for comfort). Sit back on your heels, ensuring your toes touch to create a half-diamond shape with your legs.
- Rest your hand on the wheel, then take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly lean your torso forward, rolling the wheel away from you until you reach a comfortable position. Lengthen the spine and reach toward the wheel, feeling the stretch through your chest and shoulders.
- Continue leaning forward until you’re comfortable or your belly rests between your thighs. Let the head and neck relax, dropping your forehead toward the floor for a comfortable resting position. Hold the pose for three deep breaths (or longer) before reversing the posture to exit the move.
Reclining Easy Pose
The easy pose is an excellent way to relax, focus on breathing, and prioritize mindfulness. It’s a reclined pose that can be performed using various props, but the yoga wheel makes for the perfect setup.
The pose offers a gentle, controlled backbend that slightly opens and stretches the chest while simultaneously relieving tension between the shoulder blades
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit on your mat in a cross-legged position with the wheel set directly behind you. It should be aligned with your spine so the center of the wheel meets your spine as you lean back.
- Rest your hands on your knees, palms facing up. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. As you release the breath, slowly lean back onto the wheel, extending your spine so your body gently bends over the wheel into a slight backbend.
- Rest your head against the wheel if you feel comfortable. Hold the pose for three to five breaths, focusing on mindfulness and breathwork. You can hold the pose longer but remember to work within your body’s limits.
Wheel-Assisted Lizard Lunge
After sitting at a desk all day, our hip flexors bunch up and become tight and painful. With a lizard lunge, you elongate those muscles, allowing them to stretch and release the day’s tension. To achieve a deeper stretch, you can use your yoga wheel.
If you’re not comfortable with the lizard lunge yet, work on that first, but if you’re ready for a bit of a challenge, try it with the yoga wheel. Here’s how to do it:
- Start in a half kneel, one foot planted to create a 90-degree angle in the knee and the opposite knee resting on the ground to support you.
- Place the yoga wheel behind you for easy access. When you’re ready, lift your back foot off the mat and position that ankle on the yoga wheel.
- On your next exhale, gently lean forward, aligning your shoulders with your front knee. Rest your palms on the ground under your shoulders, just inside your front foot, for added support.
- Push your back foot into the wheel as you roll it backward, straightening your leg as the wheel moves backward. Once your back leg is fully extended, adjust your leg on the wheel so it supports your ankle.
- Once you’re in the pose, focus on your breathing and keep the core engaged. For a deeper stretch through the hip, allow the front knee to fall outward slightly but not too much.
- Hold the pose for three to five breaths, then reverse the pose to exit. Repeat the process on the opposite leg.