3 Best Yoga Wheel Core Exercises

I’m an occasional yogi. I love yoga, it calms me, brings me peace and challenges my body to a whole different level than my regular workouts. That being said, I have a terribly hard time making it to class lately. Instead, I’ve taken to practicing poses at home with the help of a couple of fun props.

yogdev yoga wheel

I have recently had my eye on a yoga wheel and decided to give it a try. I liked the idea that it could be used to increase the depth and challenge of certain poses but could also be used as a way to decrease the flexibility required and work on improved core strength and form.

This has been fun to experiment with, and surprisingly there is a level of sexuality to it! Some of the poses I tried were downright hot! Bottom line, a yoga wheel is way cooler than a foam block.

The YogaDev wheel was designed with everyday yogi’s in mind and provides amazing quality for a relatively small price tag. This thing is sturdy!! There is no caving under pressure, and the foam grip helps keep you from slipping.

What is a yoga wheel?

A yoga wheel was primarily designed to help increase the depth of poses requiring a backbend such as bow pose or full pigeon. Since backbends are challenging for me already, I decided this probably wasn’t a good place to start. It is very useful for improving balance and alignment, and I loved the feedback it gave me on where my body should be as I moved into some basic backbends over the wheel.

A yoga wheel can also be used to challenge your core on a whole different level. Not only do you have to find your center and weight distribution to keep it from rolling away, but you also have to keep it from tipping over sideways. This was fun to experiment with during planks and balance poses and by far my favorite way to use it since I love challenging my balance and strength beyond what I do in the gym.

Lastly, I found it to be a great stretching tool, especially for opening up the chest and thoracic spine. It can also be a great hip opener and can offer a nice stretch to the hamstrings and hip flexors.

Strengthening Exercises

Try these 3 beginner strength exercises to challenge your core, improve your flexibility and feel like a super yogi in no time.

Yoga Squat

This surprisingly was easier than it looks. Start by placing your feet centered on the wheel, heels directly under your midline and hands on the floor in front of you. Once you find your balance, slowly bring your hands to heart center sinking into your squat. To increase the challenge come up out of the squat halfway and sink back down. Repeat 5 times.

Inverted V

This is one of my favorite core exercises, and I loved being able to use the wheel to facilitate it. Start in a high plank position with your feet on the wheel. Focus on keeping your core tight and weight centered with your feet flexed and toes on the wheel. Slowly draw the wheel towards your hands as you push up into a half handstand, lifting your hips towards the sky. Hold here or roll out and repeat 5 times.

yogdev yoga wheel inverted V

Wheel Mountain Climbers

This fun core exercise is a twist on regular mountain climbers. Start in a high plank position with your left foot pointed over the wheel. Bring your right leg to your chest without rounding through the back. Pull your bellybutton to your spine, bracing your core. Using your breathe roll the wheel in towards your body bending your right knee. Extend your left foot out behind you with a pointed toe. Repeat 3 times and switch sides.

yogdev yoga wheel mountain climbers

In fitness and good health,
Natasha

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Shoulder Mobility and T Spine Stretches

Today’s Tuesday Tip is something I really need to work on myself!

Poor T spine (upper back) mobility can contribute to tight chest muscles, hunched over shoulders and of course…pain.

You can treat shoulder pain or dysfunction with upper spine mobility and stretches. The shoulder and thoracic spine are closely connected and in order to work properly they must work well TOGETHER.

Before exercising your upper body (especially shoulders) always make sure to work in some T spine stretches and corrective exercises after your dynamic warmup. This will help prep your neural system for the workout and allow your shoulders and spine to work better together! Check out the video below for a couple of easy stretches to do at home.

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Stress Relief – Just Get Up and Move

It was Friday night. I sat here on the couch staring at my husband thinking about all the things that still needed to get done. We were both drained, physically and mentally, and on the brink of an argument over nothing. It was only 6 pm, my toddler just gave herself a toothpaste facial and the house looked like a mini tornado came through our living room. I was counting down the hours until bedtime, but I couldn’t help but feel on edge, frustrated, and not sure if I wanted to laugh, cry or sleep. My positive, upbeat personality was fading, as it usually does on a Friday night.

I realized I hadn’t even got a workout in yet, and although I don’t typically exercise at night, it sounded like just what I needed to snap out of my funk. So I forced myself off the couch, threw on my fun workout pants and dragged my butt to the gym.

stress relief

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What Happened to my Diastasis Recti

I had a thoughtful reader message me a while back asking about my personal journey with diastasis recti. If you had read some of my past blog posts, you saw how I discovered I had it, what I did to prevent it from getting worse and the kinds of activities and exercises I did to help heal it. If you haven’t been following along check out some of my old blog posts here and here!

Where Am I Now?

diastasis recti after baby I am now almost 18 months postpartum. My daughter is no longer a baby, and we have settled into our new normal as a family of three. Since having her, I have made it a personal mission to get in the best shape of my life. There have been ups and downs, but overall I am feeling pretty great! I didn’t let my diastasis hold me back from doing the activities that I love, but I have been much more aware of proper form, posture, and core activation. In the past, this all came without thinking; now it’s constantly on my mind during my workouts (which is a good thing)!

My diastasis is almost gone. I still have a half finger width separation directly above my bellybutton which will probably never go away. Is this a problem? Does this mean I can never go back to weightlifting or jumping or any other sports that require extreme core strength. No. Although some cases can be severe, and should always be evaluated by a healthcare professional, a separation this small rarely causes problems but does remind me to engage my core in all that I do. I continue to notice an improvement in this area when I do my ab exercises, which means I also see it getting slightly worse when I don’t.

Am I back to pre-baby core strength?

There are a still a few things I can’t do well and remind me of how much weaker my core is after baby. Ab exercises such as ab rollouts, double leg lowers, and low scissor exercises are still super challenging and risk me putting a lot of stress into my lower back, so I do these sparingly. But I can now jump rope, run, and do stairs without worrying about leaking! I can also hold my planks for a minute plus, and feel way more comfortable power lifting. As for the kinesiotaping, I don’t usually feel the need for it anymore, but I do use it occasionally if I am doing a heavy workout or am feeling particularly weak.

You can get a 6 pack without crunches!

The biggest thing I learned, you don’t have to do crunches to get a 6 pack! Crazy right!? How many crunches have I done in my life before baby? Probably about 10,000…haha. In the past 18 months, I have maybe done 50 total and yet my abs look better than they did before baby.

My Daily Diastasis Recti Core Routine

Okay, I said daily, I should say three times a week or when I remember. #momlife

Check out instagram @fitmamasb for a video demonstration later this week!

TA Activation
Lying with knees bent or in a wall sit. Start by taking a deep breath and on the exhale pull your belly button into your spine without tilting your hips. Lift your pelvic floor into a kegel for extra activation. Hold for 10 seconds taking a slow breath out and repeat 5x

Core strength wall sit

Then…
Do circuit 3-5 times.
20 Lying Leg Raises (Alternating Legs)
10/side Side Plank Lifts
10 Bird Dog

Have fun, as always, email or comment with any questions!

In fitness and good health,
Natasha

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HIIT – Is 10 minutes enough?

High-Intensity Interval Training

Is 10 minutes really enough?

I recently posted about how I haven’t done any long distance endurance training for the past six weeks. Life gets crazy! Work keeps me busy, my one-year-old daughter has more energy than a golden retriever puppy, and my husband has been working longer days, leaving less time for workouts.

Instead, I have focused on short high-intensity workouts to build strength and maintain my endurance. But does that work? Do short high-intensity sessions really increase aerobic metabolism?

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