If you're curious about the slick-looking wheel popping up on the Pinterest boards of your yoga friends (saves for this fitness prop were up 72 percent according to this year's Pinterest 100), welcome: you've discovered the world of the yoga wheel. Not to be confused with our friend and torture device the As Seen On TV ab wheel, the yoga wheel is exactly what it sounds like: a 12-inch (give or take) simple circle, maybe plastic, maybe cork or other natural material, to use in yoga practice.
You don't have to be an Instagram yoga star to benefit from the wheel (though a quick dive into #dharmayogawheel (more on that in a minute) shows some pretty hard core situations. And the harder stuff is where the wheel can shine, says the editor of Yoga International in her breakdown of the curious device; she found it especially helpful in challenging backbend poses.
But it's also a great tool to open up the back, shoulder, and chest as well as stretch out quads and hip flexors – in general to boost flexibility. (Good news for anyone hunched over a computer most of the day!) And wheel makers say that anyone can benefit from using them, no advanced abilities required.
Beginners can head to YogDev for pointers on novice-friendly poses including hamstring stretch and forward bend, and work up to planks with the wheel. (Conveniently, they also sell $45 wheels in cute color combinations.) Ashton August of YogiApproved also demonstrates how give yourself a spine massage at home with the wheel (anyone who's used a foam roller will find this familiar).
Where to Buy
Dharma was the first with the wheel and is still the biggie. Check out their options, (including a poster of more than 200 wheel-enhanced poses if you need inspiration!), but also take a look at the rest of the gamut, from the twenty-buck basic Gaiam on Amazon to the $150 Yoloha beauty.