“Be kind to your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” I absolutely LOVE that quote, but do you ever have times you DON’T feel “at home” in your body? It’s time to get reconnected. Check out today’s 6 must-do moves for feeling more at ONE with your own badass self. (Add in this stretch workout to your routine today).
I need to put more yoga in my life.
Every time I drop into a class I always realize how my limbs and muscles ain’t what they used to be.
Back in the day, I was a dancer—grew up dancing (tap, ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop) from the time I was 3 to 18, and the art of “being a dancer” went hand in hand with being limber.
I remember coming home every day after school, sitting on the floor in my living room in the straddle position and stretching…stretching…and stretching for 1-2 hours at a time, while I completed my homework on the floor—determined to get my splits.
Unfortunately, my hips never could do the middle splits (darned hips!), but I trained my muscles and ligaments to pop into the right and left sided splits with ease over the course of those years—so much so that, today, I still “got it”—no problem.
This past week, I dropped into the newest little yoga studio, Haven East, in East Austin after hearing raving reviews from a friend of mine about the unique Primal 7 Yoga class they offer.
Primal 7 is an entire ring and pulley system, created to help humans “move better.”
It was developed by a former NFL player after he suffered a back injury leaving him “paralyzed.” Doctors told him he would never walk again.
He decided he would.
Over the course of his rehabilitation, he developed the Primal 7 system for both rehab and workout training, and ended up regaining his ability to walk (true story). Since then, the Primal 7 system is becoming more and more popular with folks in both the therapy and fitness communities—supporting individuals to maintain proper form while performing practically any movement—squats, lunges, pushups, pullups, even running.
At Haven East, the founder Cristina has developed an awesome yoga and strength class around the system to help people move better and get the most out of every stretch and exercise (ie. proper muscle recruitment, form and alignment). Jumping in for Workout Wednesday—little did I know I was going to realize how tight I was! (shoulders, hip flexors, back muscles—all of it).
Stretching is like backing up your computer or cleaning your bathroom!
You know you need to do it.
But doing it?
Every time I do it though, I feel soooo good.
Cristina, the instructor, helped me adjust and move through each position (especially during the inversions on the bands)—Twisting and rotating my shoulders, reminding me to engage my core and hollow body, correcting the alignment of my hips and knees—all of it.
At the end: I felt like a noodle.
No ifs, ands or buts about it, stretching and mobility is not only necessary to move well, but can also help you release tension, re-align your body (slumped shoulders, uneven hips, poor core control) and feel more “at home” in your own skin.
There are three types of stretches:
- Dynamic: Active stretching before you work out.
- Static: Holding stretch positions after your workout.
- Myofascial: Also known as “mobility”—conducted anytime
What’s the role of each?
- Dynamic: Gets your body warmed up to do work, and not go in “cold”; helps prevent injury
- Static: Increases flexibility, releasing tight muscles.
- Myofascial: Works out knots so muscles, joints and your skeletal structure can be supple and move well.
How to do it?
- Dynamic: Keep motion smooth and controlled (walking lunges, leg swings, arm circles, etc.).
- Static: Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Myofascial: A variety of tools can help with release of knots and tightness (lacrosse balls, foam rollers, bands, voo doo floss, weights and kettlebells). Some techniques include: Press deeply into the foam roller or lacrosse ball on tight muscles; hold ‘pull’ or stretch with band for 30-60 seconds; passively allow a weight, like a kettlebell or barbell, to press into your muscle; wrap tissue in a band.
Get your stretch on with yoga at Haven East (donation-based), another one of the 230-plus yoga studios in this crazy yoga town or simply on your own (see stretches below). Also check out Austin’s Day of Yoga this Sunday, April 3rd with others in the community at Haven East Yoga from 12 noon-4pm.
Come Alive (in your own skin)
Here are 6 simple stretches and mobility moves to limber up:
Begin in downward facing dog. Raise your right leg so it extends away from you, then bring it forward, leading with your right knee, until your right leg is at a 90-degree angle, and your shin is under your torso. Straighten your left leg back behind you and let the front of your left thigh sit on the floor. Square your hips to the wall in front of you. Feel the stretch in your hips and right glutes.
Lie on your back with a foam roller on your mid back. Raise arms up and overhead into a “V” until tops of hands or wrists make contact with the ground. Try not to over-arch your lower back—maintain core and glute engagement. Variation: Place barbell behind your head and reach to hold onto barbell while performing the stretch. (or simply try this modification in the picture)
Lie on your left side with your legs straight and lacrosse ball in the “pocket” of your left hip—below the hip bone, at the top of the thigh/abductor muscle. Place your left forearm on the floor on the side of you and place your right hand in front of you to maintain side-lying position and ease tension as needed. Sit on ball for at least 30-seconds. You may then roll out on the ball, like you would a foam roller, down the left side of your thigh muscle. Switch sides. Repeat.
Lie with a lacrosse ball on the right side of your body—in the rear delt—above your scapula (shoulder blade), but below your upper traps and deltoids (“the meat of your shoulder”). Raise your hips and torso so that most of your body weight rests on the ball. Cross your arms, then lift your elbows toward the ceiling so the ball is still in contact with your back muscles, not your shoulder blades. Bring your hips and arms down by your sides, flat on your back. Then raise your right arm, straight up by your right ear slowly, then slowly lower it back down. Go through 10 arm raises and lowers. Repeat on other side.
Reach your hand behind your head, grasp your elbow and gently pull. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then switch sides.
Lie on your back OR stomach with feet together, arms extended outward to form a T, palms facing down, and forehead on the ground. Squeeze your right glute, bend your right knee, and lift your right leg as high as you can.
Twist hips and reach your right foot over to touch the ground on the outside of your left leg. Try to keep your arms and chest (or if on back, keep your shoulders) on the floor. Reverse the movement back to the starting position, and repeat with the left leg for one rep.
Bottom up Squat
Start out on all fours—knees and hands—in a table top position. Bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand—almost like a lunge position. Then bring your left foot to the outside of your left hand—into a full-depth squat (heels on the ground, chest upright). Raise your right arm, then your left arm up in a V-position, keeping chest upright, activating your glutes and maintaining feet still on floor. Stand up. Repeat 4-5 more times.