If you know a thing or two about yoga, you’ll know it’s pretty diverse. Yoga isn’t all about the cow pose and warrior poses – there’s so much you can do for your mind and body with yoga, and sometimes, you can even incorporate external equipment like yoga balls to help enhance your exercises.
But what exactly is a yoga ball, and how should you use it? Here’s everything you need to know about yoga balls, including how to choose the right size for you.
What Is A Yoga Ball?
In short, a yoga ball is a type of plastic exercise ball that you can use in your yoga practices to help build strength, help with physical therapy, and more. You may often hear yoga balls described as swiss balls, stability balls, or fitness balls.
Yoga balls are practically identical to other exercise balls out there. They’re made from soft elastic or a type of PVC, and they come in a variety of sizes, depending on your own height and weight, and what you’re going to be using the ball for.
Props are used in a variety of yoga classes, but usually in the form of blankets, straps, chairs, and bolsters.
Although yoga balls may not be the most common prop you’ll find in the studios, many practitioners love introducing them to their classes to help you challenge yourself, and find new ways of making yoga work for you.
What Can You Use A Yoga Ball For?
Yoga balls have an abundance of uses, but if you’ve never tried one before, you may be wondering how you can incorporate it into your usual yoga routine. Here are just a few things you can use your yoga ball for:
Using a yoga ball can be a great way to help enhance your stretches, without the risk of overextension or pulling a muscle. You can place the ball on the ground and slowly recline backwards to help you with more complex poses.
However, you could even hold your yoga ball instead, which will give you some extra weight to work with while you’re working on your balance.
You can add a yoga ball to almost any common yoga stretch, and it’s a great way to add a little more challenge to your poses and improve your strength and flexibility.
You can use a yoga ball to help improve your strength by adding it to some common poses, including the plank and even the downward-facing dog (although you should approach this one with caution!).
Planks are already a rather intense pose that puts a lot of strain on your abs and core. However, if you want to take it up a notch, you can add the yoga ball by placing your feet on the ball and your hands on the floor. Work to stabilize yourself, take a few breaths and hold for a few seconds.
You could even rest your stomach on the ball with your hands and feet off the ground, also called the floating plank. This will help stretch your back and give you a core workout at the same time.
For a downward-facing dog, you’ll already need some good balance and flexibility. Most people prefer to put their feet on the ball and their hands on the floor – just ensure you have enough space around you and plenty of mats, so that if you fall, you can reduce your risk of injury.
You could even transition from a downward-facing dog into the plank pose by allowing the ball to gently roll from your feet to your thighs.
You can also perform other poses on your yoga ball such as:
- Legs up on the ball
- The bridge pose
The Benefits Of Using A Yoga Ball
Even if you’re just sitting on a yoga ball, you’ll need to engage your core muscles to remain upright. Yoga balls are even thought to help improve posture, protect the back and strengthen your ab muscles, making them a great addition to your usual yoga routine.
Yoga balls are a natural challenge. They’re not flat or stable, so your body will have to learn to maintain balance and focus on its own. This can also help with the more mindful aspects of yoga, benefiting both your physical and mental well-being.
What Size Yoga Ball Should I Use?
Yoga balls are available in various sizes, so how do you know which size you should choose? Here are a few tips to help you get started.
The most common sizes include:
- Extra small (30cm)
- Small (45cm)
- Medium (55cm)
- Large (65cm)
- Extra large (75cm)
As a general rule, those 4’6 or shorter should choose an extra small ball, while those 6’2 or taller should choose an extra large ball. If you’re somewhere in between these measurements, you may wish to experiment with the small, medium, and large balls to see which size is right for you.
Almost all yoga balls will be sold based on their diameter, and the size you choose will depend on your height. So, think about how tall you are and how you want to use the ball to make the right choice.
Remember to choose a sturdy, puncture-proof ball that can take your weight. Most yoga balls will include their own size and height recommendations, so you’ll be able to choose the right ball for you.
The Bottom Line
A yoga ball can be an excellent addition to your usual yoga routine. Whether you’re a beginner or you practice advanced yoga, a ball can offer new ways to challenge yourself, develop your strength, and switch up your usual routine.
There’s no right or wrong way to use a yoga ball, as long as you’re doing it safely. Try adding the ball into some of your favorite poses to help improve your strength, balance or flexibility, or just include it in your seated warm-ups to practice mindfulness before you start stretching!