If you happen to be on top of your game when it comes to yoga props then you will probably already be familiar with the Dharma Wheel. Now, I have studied traditional yoga from a master in India and we were taught that the correct way to perform yoga is by using our own body and it’s natural flow, without the use of such accessories as yoga blocks, yoga straps and even more so, the use of a yoga wheel.
My challenge though is that I am born a curious being and by nature, I get easily drawn towards things that are new, unusual or magical in any kind of way. Having props available have helped my students grow confidence and access hard-to-reach places, releasing tension and relaxing into poses otherwise unavailable to them. I have used yoga blocks and yoga straps myself to deepen my practice, allowing my mind to follow the natural flow of my breath, directing my awareness to the present moment and paying attention to what my body was telling me. So I have to admit, that might be one of the only rules I continue to brake today (well, that and having nice-creams almost every day… Oh, and drinking water during my practice, that has also happened, Ooops!!).
So, let me share with you how this happened!! I have been seeing yoga wheels all over Instagram and kinda wished I could get the chance to play around with one. I checked out a few websites selling them but they had to come from America (I am based in UK) and I just never ended up going through with the purchase. I also got very busy in the meantime and been quite inactive on Social Media for a few months.
Friday came and my team and I went down to Birmingham to check out the Body Power event (I know, complete opposite of yoga, but I kinda have an interest for that too, hehe!!). I have never been to a bodybuilding event before and I have to say it was a lot of fun and it was also very interesting to notice quite a few vegan stalls there, the world is definitely changing!! But Saturday was the day, as we attended the Balance event in London, an event dedicated to the celebration of food, fitness and wellness and designed for busy urbanites seeking a more fulfilling life balance. The event is packed with foodies like Deliciously Ella, Madeleine Shaw, Clean Eating Alice, world-class fitness trainers and Global ambassadors like Zanna VanDijk, awe-inspiring yogis, classes by Barry’s Bootcamp, Third Space, Triyoga and, above all else, real people who share a common goal- to achieve a better self.
Upon arriving, I spotted John from Rawligion (if you haven’t been here yet, you have to go!!) so we got chatting. John is the owner, one of the sweetest souls on Earth and his personality surely comes through in the quality of his products. Seeing him first was the best way to start the day before browsing around the event.
Of course the next step was getting helplessly drawn towards the yoga and fitness classes, which just so happened to be near the stands selling clothing and a bunch of other interesting stuff. Then heaven on Earth happened as I spotted a yoga wheel from a distance and made my way towards it. The wheels I have been looking at in the past were priced between $90-$150 and the quality of these ones looked superior and felt like luxury. The moment I took one in my hands I felt love at first touch and the price became something of zero interest to me. I didn’t want to let the wheel go, it became part of me. Then I spotted something that gave me the will power to put the prop down. It was a rubber slip-proof yoga mat hanging on the wall. I knew in that moment I either had to run for my life or spend all my money in that one stall. I chose the second option, hahaha!! so I asked how much for the wheel and my jaw dropped as I heard the answer. I had to repeat the price after her to make sure I heard it right. She expressed the following words: “25 pounds”!!. Well I was expecting to spend at least triple that amount so I asked prices for the yoga mats, the yoga beds of nails and everything else in sight. Everything was surprisingly highly affordable and of supreme quality. Kat, an amazing yoga teacher and the creator of all these ingenious accessories said the following: “we charge what the products are really worth” and I liked how she expressed her "no-rip-off" policy. The stall had a mat laid down on the floor, which was a great opportunity to get playing with the wheel, so I tried a few yoga poses and got addicted to it immediately. I found it to be quite therapeutic, great for relaxing, also good for fitness exercises and could even help level-up my yoga practice. I would have stayed in their stall, using their mat and wheel to practice yoga poses all day so I bought a wheel and a mat and that alone made me the happiest person on Earth!!
So what are the benefits of using a yoga wheel?
GREAT FOR OFFICE WORKERS
If you spend 8 hours of your day sitting at a desk, then this would be a great asset for you as it helps reverse some of the damage caused by hunched forward positioning. Even if you don’t work at a desk, you might spend your time studying or being at a computer anyway. We live in a culture of sitting and rounding our shoulders forward and laying on a yoga wheel can help reverse that effect. Do to so, sit on the ground and place the wheel behind your back. Stretch backwards over the wheel, raising your arms above your head. With your feet firmly planted, roll back and forth the on the wheel, finding a deep opening or an interesting place to relax for 5 breaths or for as long as you feel you need. When you are done with this pose, make sure you reverse out of it with ease and find child's pose to counter the back opening.
HELPS IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY
There are many ways to improve flexibility with this awesome prop, like for example, placing the wheel behind your feet in Paschimottanasana and gripping onto the edges of it, as this can help you pull yourself into a deeper stretch. You can also practice your front splits or Monkey Pose by placing the wheel under one of your feet while extending your opposite leg or keeping it bent, if that works better for you. It can improve spine flexibility in Camel Pose and shoulder flexibility also.
CHALLENGES YOUR BALANCE
Trying to keep the wheel from moving while you are balancing on it is definitely going to challenge and strengthen your mind. As you practice keeping your “wobbling” under control using the wheel, you will notice your stability improve when you practice without it. I find it fun to keep falling off the wheel at first, because when you finally manage to hold a balancing pose on the wheel you do smile. If you are a runner, and you run outdoors facing uneven surfaces, practicing balancing exercises on a wheel can help you feel grounded and safe.
FOREARM STANDS, CHIN STANDS, SHOULDER STANDS, HANDSTANDS
ALL KIND OF STANDS!!
This tool can be especially useful when practising Scorpion Pose and hollowbacks, but can also help find stability and counterbalance falling. It is important that you make sure you talk to your teacher before attempting advanced yoga poses on your own to ensure you perform them correctly and you keep yourself safe. A yoga teacher will also give you useful advice on how to approach and build up to advanced yoga poses on your own and can guide you on which poses are easier performed with the use of a wheel and which other ones can be performed without and then be made more challenging by introducing the wheel into your practice at a more advanced stage.
MAY INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM
AND HELP YOUR MIND & MOOD
Using this amazing prop will help you build core strength and tone your muscles. Make use of it to perform a plank, standing balancing poses, one legged balancing poses, and even sitting poses to get your core and glutes working. You can also use it in fitness to perform exercises like mountain climbers or knee tucks in high plank. Performing challenging yoga poses with the use of the wheel will not only help strengthen your abs, back, glutes, hamstrings and arms, but will also support proper posture and a great bonus is that you will experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism, burning more energy even when sedentary, ensuring your metabolic rate stays high all day long. Your overall mood will improve, calming your brain and overcoming mild symptoms of anxiety and depression.
To know more about how you can get your hands on some good quality props and how to use them, drop me a line, I am always more than happy to help!! 😃