First off – thank you so so so much to my student and friend, Melinda Cordero, for rescuing me from horrible photo land! She was kind enough to host a photo shoot for me yesterday and we took tons of pictures that will be featured in upcoming posts, starting with this one.
Props are awesome…really. And I’m not just talking about your standard blocks, blankets and straps. The wall, for example, is arguably the most versatile yoga prop and I use it in my teaching so much that I have my class set up their mats at the wall from the beginning (I have the luxury of a relatively small class in a relatively large room.)
BUT, my heart really belongs to another. The FITNESS BALL. Best. Prop. Ever. Don’t worry, wall, we will return to you in a minute!
One of my favorite ways to use fitness balls is for wheel pose. Wheel is one of those poses that feels great once I get into it, but is murder on my body if I try to get into it the “traditional” way up from the floor. I love wheel for the huge back bend and chest opening and I find the pose extremely invigorating (back bends tend to amp up the system), but the ouchy low back from trying to get up from the floor isn’t worth it. I also cringe when I teach wheel from the floor because most people heave themselves up using their lower backs. Enter the fitness ball.
Step one: Drape yourself over the ball. Your head may touch the floor, or not.
Step 2: NAP! (ok maybe that’s just me…heh)
Step 2 (for real this time): bring your hands flat to the mat, elbows bent and held close into the body. Bend your knees and bring your feet flat to the floor. You’re almost in the pose already thanks to fitness ball. Push into your hands and feet and raise your spine off the ball into full wheel pose. You may notice that my butt is still touching but I’m no longer putting any weight into the ball.
No fitness ball? Fear not! Sometimes a small boost is all you need. Another prop set-up I love for wheel is at the wall. You place a bolster in between two blocks against the wall. Your hands go on the blocks and your head and back rest on the bolster. As you push up to wheel, you move your chest towards the wall. The small increase in height that the blocks and bolster give me is enough to make sure I don’t throw the movement into my lower back. To come out, bend your elbows and tuck your chin into your chest as you lower your body down to the floor.
Enjoy! Let me know if you have questions in the comments!