If you’re wondering how you could be creatively building more overall strength, here are few ways to use a yoga wheel to enhance this aspect of your practice.
Building into the final balances below is fun, interesting, and so good for you! Each shape will engage the muscles needed for the final strengthening activity and will grow your confidence towards trying that final one-armed, one-legged crow balance. Let’s play!
Basic Alignment First
This basic shape is at the bottom of all our holds so make sure you’re feeling stable here and then move on to some of the more elaborate shapes.
- Come into a wide leg plank hold with your yoga wheel between your feet.
- Carefully step each foot up onto the wheel gripping with your toes. Lean forward and down into chaturanga and press back up.
- Step it up a notch by lifting one leg at a time up off the wheel
1. Knee Tucks
Take plank on your wheel but have your shin bones on the wheel rather than your toes.
Plant into your hands and roll the wheel forward as you bend your knees in to your chest. Roll your legs back out and repeat a few times over.
Breath tip: Exhale to draw the wheel in to your nose (this engages your core more thoroughly and makes room for your knees to come closer to your chest). Inhale to push it back.
2. Pike Planks
A little handstand prep can go a long way with your core strength. Get into plank pose with your shins on the wheel as previously described. Keeping your back as straight as you can roll the wheel in towards your nose with straight legs. Roll back out and repeat a few times over.
Hand tip: Grip with your fingertips into the ground just as you would in handstand, it helps you feel less like you’re going to tip over and creates more strength.
Lower Body Boost
Stand with your back shin on the top of your yoga wheel. As you bend your front knee keep the back leg strong and straight, rolling your shin backwards over the wheel. Keeping your hands on your hips is a good reminder to keep your hips square in this exercise.
Balance tip: The more you pull your ribs (serratus muscles) towards your navel, and your shoulder blades back behind you, the more stable your balance (and focus!) will be.
4. Songbird Balance
This one only really works on the larger yoga wheels. If your wheel didn’t come with something to hold it in place then you can use a heavy block on either side so it doesn’t roll away.
Come to table-top position (hands and knees) on the wheel and carefully extend one arm forward and one leg back. Keep your back straight just like the tucks and pikes above.
Engagement tip: Grip the edge of the wheel with your finger tips and push firmly through your lifted toes.
5. One Legged, One Handed Crow!
The moment of truth! Take Crow Pose on the floor with one knee on the yoga wheel just behind your hands.
Lift the same arm forward and up by tip toeing the fingers forward little by little.
Carefully push into the shin of the opposite leg to lift your knee up off your arm. Exhale as you lift up, gripping your fingers as you press forward and pull your ribs into your navel to round your back more.
Level up tip: Go one step further by beginning in the lunge with your knee on the wheel and find your plank hands before lifting the back leg up to the sky- now lift the opposite arm up by tip-toeing the fingers slowly forward!
These are just a few playful ways you can use your yoga wheel to add more strengthening activities to your practice. Relinquish your fear and just try it! You will be surprised at how far you get!
What are some of your favorite ways to add strength training?