Lola is one of our beautiful and inspiring brand ambassadors. She is more than just a representative for The Sweat Store; she is also a yoga instructor, bodyweight movement coach, TRX trainer, fitness model and Acro-Yoga affectionado. She has a collective 14 years of athleticism experience. Recently, she has co-hosted several yoga workshops in the Los Angeles area and has contributed several articles to various social media platforms. She continues to inspire and educate the world about fitness on a daily basis. You can keep up with her on instagram by following her @lolathlete. Here are some yoga tips from Lola, including specifics on why you should love backbends.
Urdhva Dhanurasana, otherwise known as Wheel Pose, is a humbling pose that requires both strength and flexibility. Yogi or not, seasoned or beginner practitioner, everyone should incorporate this pose into their daily routine. Here are some tips for getting into Wheel Pose and a few reasons why you should fall in love with this beautiful heart opener.
To prep for this pose, Lola loves to do passive supine bends over a foam roller (or the arms of the couch), while stretching her arms overhead. This starts with the warming and opening of the shoulders. As the shoulders open, you begin to lengthen the vertebrae, which increases elasticity and flexibility of the spine. As we become older, our spines compress, but the Wheel Pose creates the necessary space in the spine to help keep you feeling young and healthy.
When you’re ready to go into the full pose, lie flat on your back. Bend your knees straight up, bringing heels just behind your hips. Bring your hands on either side of your head with your fingers pointing back toward your body. Press into your feet and hands and lift your hips straight up.
Here is what Lola says based off of her experience: “When first learning this pose, I was all about pushing from the arms first… I thought the strength of the arms were the requirement to get you up. But if you focus on getting into the pose using your legs rather than your arms and lifting your pelvis up first by using your legs (which are much stronger than your arms), you can lift yourself up in a circular motion which uses much less energy than by trying to push yourself up with your arms. Think feet, hips then chest. It’s a lot easier.”
It is recommended to hold the Wheel Pose for a few breaths, lifting yourself into the pose at least three times per practice session. Don’t worry if you have not incorporated the Wheel Pose into your practice yet, as there are other backbends, such as Bridge Pose, that are an earlier stage of the asana and may feel more accessible. The bridge pose is more like a precedent to the Wheel Pose. The arching of your back is still necessary however you keep the length of your arms on your floor along with your head, while lifting your butt in the air and keeping your legs bent at your knees at a 90 degree angle. This does not require as much arm strength and is a great first stretch into yoga.