It may not look like much, but Pinterest has touted the yoga wheel as one of 2018's hottest workout props, with saves for the circular piece of kit (currently a staple in the gym bags of every yoga bunny, FYI) having increased by a huge 72%.
So what exactly is it and why is everyone so excited about it?
What Is A Yoga Wheel And What Is It Used For?
The yoga wheel is a hollow, circular shaped prop designed for aiding stretching, releasing tension and improving flexibility.
According to Lucy Arnold, yoga instructor, personal trainer and founder of yoga clothing brand Locket Loves, it is set to be the new foam roller.
'A yoga wheel is for absolutely everybody, from yoga pros to runners and crossfire athletes,' she says. 'In 2018, I think we'll really see this piece of kit explode. That's because of its versatility and how it can aide us to stretch deeper and release tension in hard to access places. You can roll on it, lie on it, lay on it and breathe on it and it really helps to open your shoulders like no block can.'
We're already sold.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Yoga Wheel?
'The yoga wheel is the best tool on the market by far,' says celebrity personal trainer, Peter Maciver AKA PMac.
But as well as building strength and stamina, there are so many other advantages of adding a yoga wheel to your workout arsenal.
1. It Can Help You Nail Those Difficult Stretches Safely
'For me, one of its best uses is that it's a simple and safe way of easing people in to backbends,' says Peter.
'Yoga props are key to helping practitioners evolve their practise, and the wheel really helps release your back. It's particularly great if you don't feel comfortable with doing traditional backbends.'
2. It Can Help Prevent Injury
'Many years ago, yoga tools were back-forbidden,' reveals Peter, 'but this tool has been developed in a way to work with your body, and one of the brilliant things about them is that they can help to prevent injury.'
Think of the wheel as scaffolding for your body - it can help keep you upright and lends the support that's lacking during traditional poses without props.
3. It Help's To Improve Flexibility
According to experts, incorporating a yoga wheel into your yoga routine will give you the confidence to stretch further than normal, eventually allowing you to move your body in ways you never could before.
The splits? Consider them mastered.
4. It Can Help Relieve Aches And Pains
When you're in pain, the last thing you want to do is work up a sweat, but you might want to put the paracetamol down for a second, because Lucy believes that practising gentle poses with a yoga wheel has the clever ability to soothe away soreness and discomfort.
'Certain poses with a yoga wheel (more on those later) can help diminish any aches and pains at the front of the body including the abdomen, chest, shoulders and hips,' she says.
It's also brilliant for easing back pain and works wonders to massage the length of your spine - no professional masseuse needed.
5. It Will Make You Stronger
Relying on a yoga wheel is one of the best ways to strengthen your core - spinach who?
'Alone, some people can feel off balance or unstable, but the yoga wheel can act like a support system', explains Peter.
'Having the yoga wheel behind your back will help you feel much more confident to do more with your back, and so eventually, you will feel much stronger as a result.'
6. It Will Stop You From Hunching
Being desk-bound from 9-5 does a whole lotta damage to your back and shoulders, but you can cancel that massage, because the yoga wheel is just as amazing at ironing out knots and releasing that tension.
'As a personal trainer I see so many instances of clients coming to me with rounded shoulders due to how they sit at work,' says Lucy, 'but research suggests that using a yoga wheel is a fantastic way to help reverse this effect. It help clients who have never practised yoga before and aids deep stretching all over the body. Not only is the prop gaining popularity in the yoga, world but also in athletics, because of the way it can counteract those knots.'
7. It Can Help You Wind Down
If your evening HIIT sesh leaves you feeling completely wired come bedtime, Lucy suggests swapping it out for a go on the yoga wheel, 'It's perfect for winding down after work and encouraging TLC.'
A Harvard University study even concluded that certain yoga practises can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful in combating both anxiety and depression, and anything that helps us sleep easy gets our vote.
4 Simple Poses Even Yoga Novices Can Ace With A Yoga Wheel
1. The Spinal Stretch
Probably the easiest to pose master, this gives your spine a little more support when acing that backbend.
'Position the yoga wheel in the centre of your back and lay over it,' says Lucy. 'Bring your arms out to the side and then let your head hang back. It's a really great stretch after a hard day at the office.'
2. The Forward Fold
Terrible huncher? This will iron away knots and loosen up your shoulders.
'When you're in a seated position, place the wheel under your calf muscles. Reach forward and place your hands on the wheel to pull yourself in deeper,' advises Lucy.
3. The Child's Pose
'Get into the child's pose with your knees wide apart and place both hands on the sides of the wheel at the front of your mat,' says Lucy. 'Keeping your head down, roll the wheel forward slowly and you press your chest to the ground. This stretch really opens up the shoulders.'
4. Open Your Sides
'Simply kneel next to the wheel, drape your side over it and feel the space created,' says Lucy. 'If you're practising yoga already, try testing out your favourite standing poses on the wheel. They'll enhance both balance and flexibility.'