Practicing Wheel Yoga (Yoga with a wheel as a prop) really helped me to deepen my exercise in a lot of ways, from improving my backbends to enhancing my balance in a regular class. That’s why I wanted to share my experience with some of the benefits of Wheel Yoga.
First of all, it’s a perfect way to improve backbends and eliminate any hunch in the back. There are exercises which target the lower back region as well as exercises which target the upper back region. Especially rolling your spine back on the wheel from a seated position is extremely beneficial for overall back agility. If you roll back until your shoulders touch down to the floor lower back agility will be improved. To deepen this exercise even more the arms can be stretched over the head and legs to the front while sinking the hip down.
As I was suffering from a hunch in the upper back in a lot of forward folds I especially used Wheel Yoga to eliminate this hunch. Perfectly suited for this is an exercise where you grab the wheel with both of your hands by bringing the hands behind the upper back and then roll the spine back on the wheel. Ideally the forearms, elbows and head should touch down to the floor, while the wheel is placed at the upper back.
In both of these exercises your spine gets as a side effect a nice massage and your chest is widely opened.
Ardha Chakrasana (Half Wheel Pose) and Tiryaka Tadasana (Swaying Palm Tree Pose) can also be deepened through the use of a wheel, when the wheel is held by both hands in both the pose. Doing the pose like this is however quite tough even for experienced yogis.
Wheel Yoga also helped me to improve my overall balance, through doing standing postures on the Wheel (before doing this the wheel has to be locked by e.g. block to prevent the wheel from rolling). I first started with simple pose like only standing on the wheel with two and then one leg and the advanced to real asanas like Virabhadrasana C (Warrior 3), Vrkasana (Tree Pose) or even Natarajasana (Dancer Pose).
In seated forward folds, like Ardha Baddha Konasana (Forward fold from Butterfly Pose) or Janu Sirasana, I use a wheel to lengthen my spine more and thus to go deeper into the pose.
A wheel can be used in a lot of other ways too, but it will always deepen and enhance your yogic experience!