The yoga wheel is a seriously underrated piece of equipment. It not only helps to deepen and accentuate your stretches, but it’s also key to mastering difficult poses. Just ask Kate Hudson, the Fabletics front woman who’s a huge fan of the tool (and feels comfortable using it even during her first trimester of pregnancy), Self reports.
And while there are plenty of ways to work out with a yoga wheel, here are a few expert-approved methods that will leave you more open, flexible, balanced, and toned. Talk about the whole package.
Check out 6 ways to use a yoga wheel.
1. Stretch your back and chest
You haven’t felt a true stretch in your back and chest until you’ve used a yoga wheel during your Supta Baddha Konasana pose. According to personal trainer Alex Silver-Fagan, adding it into your routine regularly will help you “gain more mobility and flexibility, specifically in the spine.” To get the most out of the restorative pose, simply “lean back onto the wheel, placing your spine along its curve, to help deepen the [chest-opening effect] and add more mobility in your backbend.”
2. Build your glute strength
In Hudson’s Instagram video above, she uses the yoga wheel to make the three-legged tabletop position a bit harder. To copy the move—and make your booty burn like crazy!—yoga instructor Omri Kleinberger recommends keeping your hands planted on the ground and situating your body as if you’re in a plank, then keeping one knee on the wheel and lifting your other leg up and down. “This stretches the hip flexors, strengthens the glutes, and engages the shoulders and chest for upper-body strength and stability,” Kleinberger says.
3. Amp up your balance skills, and work your core
Because you’re balancing on the wheel, you’re also working your core—something yoga instructor Lara Gobins says makes it more of an exercise than a yoga pose. “It’s very challenging, but I wouldn’t say it’s not accessible. It takes a lot of core stability, which obviously [Hudson] has,” she says.
4. Increase your flexibility
According to the Mayo Clinic, being flexible can decrease your risk of injury and help your muscles work more effectively—in addition to boosting your athletic performance. One way Gobins says you can increase your bendiness is to use the yoga wheel in your bridge pose: Just raise your hips and wrap your lower back along it to expand and stretch your chest, pecs, and stomach.
5. Deepen all your stretches
Unlike a square block, the yoga wheel works with the natural curvature of your spine—and according to Gobins, that allows you to go even deeper into lower-body stretches. One way to reap the benefits is to lunge. “Start with one knee forward and the back knee resting on the ground. Then lift your back knee and place the top of your foot on the wheel,” instructs Gobins. “Walk your front foot forward for a really intense quad and psoas (internal loin muscle) stretch.”
6. Combat the woes of desk jobs
If you spend the majority of your day hunched forward at your desk (you’re not alone!), Kleinberger says one of the best things you can do for your body is to use the yoga wheel to undo the damage: AKA “extend your spine [backward] and open up your chest.” That way, being a #girlboss won’t lead to any back issues down the line. Plus, you’ll get some much-needed relief in the process.
Here are the eight most popular yoga styles, explained. Also, check out these six compact travel yoga mats that all cost less than $60.
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