How to Choose the Right Yoga Ball for Fitness, Therapy or Massage
When people talk about “yoga balls,” they could be referring to a few different types of products. One possibility is the large, inflatable fitness balls that people often use to perform balance exercises. Another common “yoga ball” is the small, dense, hand-size ball used for self-massage to relieve soreness. And there’s even a “yoga ball chair” market for people looking for a fitness ball to sit on as a replacement for a standard office chair.
Both large exercise balls and therapy balls can very helpful for amateur and professional yogis, as stretching, balance, and relief of minor pain are all a big part of regular yoga practice. You can use these balls at home to supplement your sessions at the yoga studio. Just like with yoga bolsters, yoga balls can aid in your comfort.
Which yoga balls are worth your money? Read on to discover our suggestions for the best yoga balls of all types. Note: Use of the word “best” here is meant only to reflect one writer’s opinion.
Choosing the Best Yoga Balls for Therapy
Yoga therapy balls are often used for self-massage. The small, firm balls can be placed directly under your neck, back, or muscles, and by moving your limbs or trunk slightly, you work the balls into your tissues for a deep massage. They serve the same purpose as foam rollers, but their small size allows them to more easily target specific areas.
The video below provides an interesting explanation of how to use yoga Tune Up balls as part of a therapy sequence that helps reduce neck, shoulder, jaw pain:
Therapy massage balls are great for athletes and runners with sore muscles, individuals with pain in their joints, new mothers, and just about anybody else who wants to release muscle tension and have a soothing body relaxation experience.
Our top two recommendations for yoga therapy balls are just below.
Yoga Tune Up is the most prominent brand in the yoga therapy ball niche. The company’s 2.5 inch rubber balls are firm with a grippy finish that keeps them from sliding off the skin. They tend to soften slightly with use, leaving them with an ideal texture for digging into your muscles.
The balls come with a mini mesh tote bag to keep them safe, which is great for people like me who easily lose things. They come in a number of colors, such as Aqua Blue, Deep Purple, and Hot Green, and they can fit into almost anyone’s budget.
In many ways, the Mandala massage balls are similar to the ones by Yoga Tune Up. They feature the same 2.5-inch diameter and a comparable rubber material. Mandala emphasizes that all users need to do is “Place the balls in tight areas and let gravity take over.” The balls are durable and seem like they will stand the test of time.
One awesome aspect of the Mandala ball is that if you buy it through Amazon, the balls have a 30-day guarantee. Return them for a full refund, no questions asked, if you’re not totally satisfied. You can’t ask for a better deal than that!
The Black Mountain stability ball isn’t specifically made for yoga, but when it comes to large inflatable balance balls ideal for workouts or stretching, this one is quite good. It’s made of heavy duty material designed to last for several years, and it does not leak much air over time, unlike some other balls which require constant refilling.
Black Mountain’s ball comes in three different colors (black, purple, and blue), but more importantly, it comes in five different sizes (45, 55, 65, 75, and 85 cm), so you can choose whether you want a larger ball or something smaller. Included in the package is a plastic air pump and a brochure describing different exercises you can do with the ball to improve your posture and circulation.
If you desire a fitness ball made specifically for yoga by a trusted brand, consider the Gaiam exercise ball, which comes with a DVD featuring 105 minutes of stretching and yoga ball workouts.
Balance balls like the Black Mountain are nice, but if you’ve ever tried to use one as a desk chair, you know they can be awkward because they slide around. The solution is a fitness ball specifically designed as a chair, like Gaiam’s rubber balance ball seat.
The Gaiam chair is a balance ball (choose from nine vibrant colors!) that rests atop a movable base. The base comes with four wheels for easy transport, but two of them are lockable so you can stay in the same position all day long while you work.
Yoga ball chairs can sometimes be gimmicky or come with unnecessary bells and whistles that raise the price, but Gaiam’s balance ball is basic and effective. It comes with an air pump as well. Unlike some balance ball chairs, this one comes with a back rest for added comfort and posture.
With the Gaiam chair, when you’re done sitting upright, you can use the ball on the floor for stretching and posture exercises, just like you would with a normal exercise balls. It comes with a ball pump as well.