Wheel pose is what I like to call a “breakthrough” pose that, once you can achieve the full pose, it opens up a whole new set of poses! In that way, it is worth practicing regularly to advance your backbends and optimize a healthy and mobile back.
For men who have stronger or tighter shoulders and backs, reaching wheel pose without props will take some time. Luckily, there are tools to give guys leverage in this pivotal pose. If the arms are not yet straight in wheel, you can use remedial variations to help take pressure off of the wrists and to protect your lower back, where it tends to be hyper-mobile, while you work to open your upper and mid back, where the spine tends to be more stuck.
Here they are:
Wheel With Blocks
Set up your blocks shoulder-width apart and at an angle against the wall. Lie on your back with your hands on the blocks and your feet hip-width apart and under your knees. Lift up onto the top of your head first, and pump your chest towards the wall and your shoulders back. Press your hands against the block to lift your head off the mat and work your arms towards straight. On the way down, keep your inner-thighs setting down towards the floor at an even rate as your outer thighs. Do not let your feet angle out.
Wheel With A Blanket
Just like you set up wheel with the blocks, this time take a rolled up blanket and wedge it between the wall and the floor. This is a great one, if placing your hands on the blocks is awkward. With the blanket, you just grab ahold of the blanket roll. Use good alignment as you lift up and work your chest towards the wall.
Wheel Against The Wall
Once you are working with straight arms comfortably with the props, you can move towards palms flat on the mat, with the base of your wrist wedged between the floor and the wall. Just as if you were using props, work towards getting your arms vertical and your chest towards the wall.
Once you have got these variations down, and your arms are straight, you can move away from the wall. Once you are at this stage, you might find that you will come back to the remedial variations because they work really well to prevent any strain or discomfort.