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How to do Yoga on the Foam Roller

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With all of the attention that foam roller fitness tools are getting, a lot of people know that these handy workout aids provide some specific benefits for various kinds of fitness routines. However, many who practice yoga might not realize how much using a foam roller fits right into the variety of activities involved in a normal yoga routine for developing range of motion, flexibility, muscle tone and more.

What Is a Foam Roller?

A foam roller tool is generally a whole or half cylinder of foam material. It is built with a specific resistance or elasticity, so that when the user rests on it, it compresses and pushes back against the localized area of the body. According to some users, this simple pressurization provides lots of health benefits. Some claim that this kind of "self massage" technique (technically called myofacial release) is useful in improving circulation, alleviating certain kinds of pain, and promoting good body responses.

Using Foam Rollers in Yoga: Why it Works

The ancient fitness art of yoga is very focused on putting the body into different positions to challenge overall body capacity and improve fitness and health. When fitness enthusiasts started putting the foam roller into routines, the variety of foam roller exercises that most of them practiced began to look a lot like what is included in a yoga session.

Because a lot of common yoga poses are very similar to foam roller exercises, it can be easy to adjust a yoga session to include a foam roller component. As mentioned, the foam roller is a resistance tool that can amp up a yoga or Pilates session to include more work for muscle groups. For this reason, some yoga trainers are looking at the foam roller as a way to enhance their group classes or other sessions.

Some Foam Roller Yoga Exercises

Specific examples of using the foam roller in yoga show us how these two different workout routines work together.

  • One example of foam roller yoga is in body plank exercises. Here, the arms may rest on the foam roller, while the body maintains a kind of straight prone position. Users may push up with one or both arms.
  • Another common foam roller yoga exercise would be a side roll or leg lift position, where the user lies on his side, rolling the foam roller between hip and knee, or knee and calf, while supporting the body with the arms.
  • Other foam roller exercises work for hamstrings and glutes. A sitting yoga pose might be adapted into a hamstring stretch, where the user sits on the foam roller and rolls back and forth with the feet.

These are just some examples of many common yoga activities that are adapted for the foam roller. As a handy and portable fitness tool, the foam roller can be worked into almost any fitness routine, at home or at the gym, to provide more resistance and enhanced interactivity for either a "meditative" yoga or Pilates session (or even a power workout).

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