Rolling Into the New Year
Now is the time to take a look at your exercise routine and change things up to keep it interesting, avoid plateaus, and focus on overlooked muscles. Check out these great ways to roll into the new year with a Yoga Wheel workout. You don’t have to be a yogi or even practice yoga to try these five moves, but you will need a yoga wheel.
What is a yoga wheel?
The yoga wheel is a hollow, circular-shaped exercise piece of equipment that’s durable enough to hold your total body weight. It’s used for aiding in stretching, releasing tension and improving flexibility as well as a great tool for bodyweight strength training. A yoga wheel can assist in many different yoga postures.
The yoga wheel can be used for a number of different stretches.
Tight neck and upper back?
Use the Yoga Wheel while seated on the ground and legs extended. Place the heel at mid back, just below the shoulder blades and slowly lower your body over the wheel keeping the middle of the wheel between your shoulder blades. Once your weight is on the wheel, reach your arms over your head and let your head lower towards the floor. Extend your arms upward and then down towards the hips in a snow-angel like movement. This stretch is great for opening the chest which can release tension and tightness in the upper back and neck. Play with the exact position of the wheel on the upper back to help release your tight spots by moving it slightly lower or higher than the starting position. Hold stretches for 10-30 seconds.
Tight hips or lower back?
Use the Yoga Wheel while lying on the ground, and with knees bent lift your hips and place the yoga wheel under your pelvis as close to the sacrum as possible. Then, rest your bodyweight onto the wheel, you should feel a natural tilt to the pelvis toward the belly happen. Now, bring one knee into the chest for a deep stretch to the hip flexors. Reach and lengthen the opposite leg while pushing through the heel to deepen the stretch and hold stretches for 10-30 seconds. Shoulders, head, and neck should be in a neutral position, meaning the chin is not pointing toward the ceiling. Be sure to repeat this stretch on the other side. This helps stretch the hip flexors that may be putting tension in the lower back and hips. After stretching these muscles, it’s a good idea to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes which are the opposing muscles to help maintain this open lower back position and relieve pain and tightness. The bridge and hamstring curl with the yoga wheel works well for this!
Tight calf muscles?
If your calves are tight, rolling them on the yoga wheel can help. Start kneeling on the ground and extend your foot forward resting the calf on the yoga wheel and placing your hands on the ground for balance. Gently move your hips forward to press the yoga wheel into the back of the calf with some compression rolling. This rolling can help increase circulation to the muscle and release any muscle adhesions. Perform this rolling stretch for 10 to 30 seconds on each side.
Also, the yoga wheel can be used for a number of different strengthening exercises.
Start lying on the ground with knees bent and place the yoga wheel underneath your feet. Balancing both feet on top of the wheel lift the hips into a bridge position. This bridge exercise incorporates a higher platform that challenges the hamstrings to work harder but also incorporates balance to stimulate the core and total lower body stabilizers. Try to hold this lift for 10 to 30 seconds. If this is too difficult, place only one foot on the wheel and lift and balance. Then repeat on the other side.
Start lying on the ground with knees bent and place the yoga wheel underneath your feet. Balancing both feet on top of the wheel lift and lower the hips on this bridge exercise. This bridge exercise incorporates a higher platform that challenges the hamstrings to work harder but also incorporates balance to stimulate the core and total lower body stabilizers. Lift 15-20 repetitions. If this is too difficult, place only one foot on the wheel and lift and lower the hips 15-20 reps. Then, repeat on the other side.
Start lying on the ground with knees bent and place the yoga wheel underneath your feet. Balancing both feet on top of the wheel lift the hips and keep them lifted. Then roll the wheel from heel to toes slightly bending and extending the legs to target the hamstrings, calves and glutes. This bridge exercise incorporates a higher platform that challenges the hamstrings to work harder but also incorporates balance to stimulate the core and total lower body stabilizers. Roll the wheel in and out for about 15-20 repetitions. If this is too difficult, place only one foot on the wheel and roll the wheel in and out with the hips lifted 15-20 reps then repeat on the other side. This exercise targets the lower body.
Start on knees with arms outstretched forward resting the hands on the yoga wheel. Slowly roll out to a plank on your knees, while keeping the arms and back straight trying not to bend at the hips. Hold this plank for 10-30 seconds and then return to starting position. If this exercise is too difficult, it can be done with one hand on the ground and the other arm rolling out to the plank. Roll out and hold with one arm outstretched and repeat on the other side.
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