Deciding on Whether You Need a Yoga Wheel

Yoga wheels are usually used in assisting us bend back properly and safely. (Image source: Wikimedia)

One day, a friend posted a photo of himself with a round thing he called “a yoga wheel“. He bent backwards quite impressively, for a guy. We all know how hard it get for most of male yoga participants to bend back. Is it another newly invented yogic fad? The answer depends on a lot of considerations.

Some say they don’t use one. They do asanas as much as they can to maintain the strength and flexibility of my body, but don’t put so much emphasis on perfecting it. “If I cannot bend backwards like it is seen in the Instagram photos, it is fine with me, it is not my strong point anyway,” says someone named Ayca Gurelman on quora.com after I uploaded the question.

Gülnihal Özdener who is trained in Dharma Yoga and having practiced for 7 years, with over 1000-hour participation of Teacher Training programs (including Yoga Therapy) and workshops opines:

“I have been using the Dharma Yoga Wheel for the last 15 months, and I have seen quite a big progress in my asana practice. The yoga wheel is originally used to deepen the backbends, by helping the body relax, the shoulders (and shoulder blades) open, and the spine lengthen without much effort. Basically, I see the wheel as a therapeutic tool for my scoliosis. As your practice with the wheel ‘advances’, it is also a great tool to make your practice trickier by trying balancing poses on the wheel. Personally, the first time I found the balancing point of Pincha Mayurasana was while I was practicing with the wheel. If you check out different tutorial videos, you can see for which poses it can be used.
Please, don’t be tricked into the Insta wheel madness – the wheel accounts use the most ‘accomplished’ yoga practitioners for their promotion. You know, due to marketing reasons… Yet, yoga wheel is not just for freakishly difficult asanas, nor only the ‘perfect’ male/female body types could benefit from them.
If your goal is to deepen your backbends or challenging your asana practice, a yoga wheel is a nice, therapeutical prop. You can even use it in your daily life; if you are to watch the TV, just lean your back on the wheel and enjoy the show you’re seeing, while your shoulder blades open!
While she points out some benefits of using a yoga wheel in asana practices, she reminds us of the fact that it’s not everything and shouldn’t be considered staple in our practice.
On the same issue, Swami Purnachaitanya (self claiming to be practicing various schools of yoga for 15 years, a yoga teacher for 10 years) answers the question more wisely:
Here it might be good to specify what the purpose of your yoga asana practice is – what is the goal you are trying to achieve, or the benefits you have in mind?
As per the traditional practice and scriptures of the ancient science of yoga, Asana is an integral part of the system of Yoga, as described by Maharishi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras and other main scriptures on this discipline. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines Asana as that which is ‘comfortable’ and ‘steady’: sthirasukham asanam. Asana is a means to strengthen the body and make it healthy and capable to sit comfortably and steadily for meditation, which will allow us to experience our true Nature. So here (extreme) flexibility is an added benefit of asana practice, it is not the goal.
Traditionally yoga does not use any such tools or props, and they are therefore not a necessity or requirement for any proper asana practice. A yoga wheel might help you if you are very keen to do certain backward bends or asanas, but that is all. It is not required if you have a proper teacher and practice though.
I hope this answers your question… 🙂
Another yoga teacher named Stephen McLoughlin reckons,”It is not going to make or break your practice. You can certainly do chakrasana without it, but it’s not a bad prop if you need to ease into backbends. You can also use a balance ball or even a wall.”
Now ask yourself whether or not you need it. Namaste!

#Yoga Is Not Your Hiding Place from Reality

‎”Some people might think that by practicing Yoga you’re running away from the world and are not going to enjoy anything. But yogis are the people who are going to enjoy everything. Because when you’re the master of your life, you’re not controlled by anything and you can enjoy everything. This is the aim of Yoga.” – Swami Satchidananda

I stumbled upon the gorgeously arranged string of words on a fellow yogi’s Instagram feed. So though some people think social media is full of prentention, it can be filled with true wisdom, too.

It reminded me of a friend who complained right after he was on board, flying to Jakarta after his amazing yoga retreat in Bali. “Back to the real world, guys! Wish I could stay longer there,” he blurted on Facebook, wanting us to know what he truly felt about being back to the hectic life and the daily grind that sucks most of the time.

Another friend of his noticed the escapism attitude in the complaint, criticizing:”So yoga is your way to flee the reality?”

That, however, did stun me in someway as well. There is a point, or some, in our life when things really don’t go the way we want. And if you’re a yogi/ni or familiar with yoga practice, yoga may help alleviate all or most or some of the pain.

I totally can relate to my friend’s complaint. Yoga — as far as I’m concerned — enables me to rest from the binding monotonous routines, study our Self more profoundly, solemnly, without any unnecessary external intervention. ‎Yoga provides me arare opportunities to be on my own, be my own master. I feel free, unchained, uncontrolled, let go by the norms and demands of the society and authority. What a sanctuary!

So when a yoga class is over, I suddenly turn miserable and forlorn again. ‎What’s wrong with this feeling and mind?

‎What Swami Satchidananda states indeed opens my eyes that what I feel after yoga classes is somewhat similar to what my escapist friend felt after his glorious yoga retreat.

Can we enjoy everything we go through in life just like what the Indian thinker suggests?

That, I suppose, is one of the most worth thinking subject matters a yogi/ni can have. ‎That could be our lifelong homework, too.