22 Apr What Is The Yoga Wheel And Why Should We Learn How To Use It?
Yoga instructor Viv Kan tells us all about the amazing tool she’s fallen in love with and why you should get in on the trend!
If you’re someone who’s done yoga for some time you’ve most likely come across the more commonly used yoga props such as blocks (or bricks), blankets, chairs, straps and bolsters. But have you ever encountered the yoga wheel?
Having only been in the market for a few years, the yoga wheel has quickly risen in popularity among yogis — and for good reason. Whether you’re a beginner or a little more advanced in your practice, the yoga wheel can help you roll out the spine, open the front side body, deepen your stretches and assist you as you move into more advanced yoga postures. Sounds awesome, right?
In this Q&A, Flex instructor Viv Kan shares her love for the yoga wheel — how it’s helped her improve her practice and how it can help you, too!
When did you first encounter or learn about the yoga wheel?
The first time I learned about the yoga wheel was at Flex Studio! I played around with the prop and learned that it is much more than just a backbending tool.
Why did you decide to take it forward to your teaching practice?
I started incorporating the wheel into my classes and even bought one for myself to practice at home after I discovered how it took my yoga practice to another level. It helped deepen poses and improve my posture.
Do you know where and how the yoga wheel originated?
Dharma Yoga founder, Sri Dharma Mittra, was walking in Chinatown New York in 1978. There, he came across a store that had thick industrial plastic (plexiglass) cut to all sizes. There was a small circular piece that he thought would be perfect for opening the back and stretching the entire body. He started using it at the studio and it became very popular with the students. It wasn’t until 2014 that his son, Yogi Varuna, began mass producing and selling the product.
What are the benefits of using a yoga wheel? Why should people use it?
So many benefits! I can’t list all of them, but the main ones are: allows inversions to be more accessible, deepens poses like backbends and forward folds, improves posture, and increases flexibility in the spine.
Do you think the yoga wheel is an underrated or overlooked prop in yoga?
Because not many studios have the yoga wheel available as a prop, I think most people just don’t know about it. I didn’t see it my entire time practicing yoga in Toronto, and I’ve been to many studios, considering its close proximity to New York where it originated. After using it at Flex, almost every student I’ve introduced the prop to has come to love the wheel for its wide variety of uses.
Which yoga classes usually incorporate the yoga wheel?
I usually incorporate the yoga wheel in Stretch & Release and Hatha classes. Of course, the wheel can be incorporated into many different types of classes due to its versatility, but I find that slower-paced classes allow students to take their time to acclimate to the prop better.
How do you use the yoga wheel in your classes? How will you use it in your upcoming workshop?
I use the yoga wheel for hamstring stretches, opening the sides and front body, inversions, and of course backbends. Because I am very stiff myself, getting into a backbend without a prop just doesn’t happen naturally for me. So in the workshops I will be introducing ways to do the same, emphasizing that “you don’t need to be flexible or back-bendy to be able to use the yoga wheel!”
Would you consider yourself a prop-heavy teacher? What are your other favorite yoga props and why?
Yes! I come from the school of thought that traditional yoga poses were not created for the modern adult. For example, some yoga lineages were created for 12-year-old boys in India to provide a disciplined activity they can do daily. Our bodies have adapted to the sedentary lifestyle, although are also made to move. Props make yoga more accessible, less intimidating, and comfortable for anyone practicing at any level. Another favourite prop of mine is the bolster.
Get up close and personal with the yoga wheel this May 17 and 24, 2020 at Viv Kan’s Yoga Wheel workshop to be held at Flex One Island South. In this two-part workshop, you will learn how to use the yoga wheel to deepen your stretches and strengthen your balance. Suitable for all levels. Click here to see more details, and here to sign up!
Viv Kan’s yoga journey began in 2010 when she discovered that yoga was much more than just a physical practice – it was the mind-body connection that became an essential part of her life. As a Corporate Wellness Coach & 500RYT yoga instructor, she focuses on Sleep, Stress, Mindfulness and Mental Health programs to improve well-being. Previously working in finance and tech, Viv now helps individuals perform at their highest potential and prevent burnout. Vivian completed her 500RYT certificate at Downward Dog Yoga Toronto, with teachers who follow the Ashtanga lineage.