Category Archives: Workouts and training programs

OFFSKATES WORKOUT WITH ACRD

Pyro

I had the privilege of guest-coaching an off-skates workout for my beloved Assassination City Roller Derby recently, and I wanted to make it available for anyone to do at home. This circuit takes 20-30 minutes, depending on how long your rest breaks are in between exercises.  You can do this pretty much anywhere – it requires no equipment and you don’t need shoes.

Off skates with Pyro – 6/29/14

 
Warmup (5 minutes)
Neck/shoulder/arm rolls
Windmill – stand in an A-frame, arms straight out to sides parallel to floor. Keeping arms straight bend and twist at waist to touch right toes with left hand. Return to start position and twist to touch left toes with right hand. Alternate for 20 seconds.
airplanearms
Marching, high knees, butt kicks
Balboas –  jogging in place while shadowboxing high in the air as if punching a speedbag
10 jumping jacks
10 cross jacks  (arms crossed in front instead of overhead)
10 squat jacks (sink into sumo squat with each jump)
Core (5-10 minutes)
Cat/cow for 15-20 sec to loosen the spine, then  30-60 seconds of each exercise with 10-15 sec rest in between.
 cat camel
Scorpions – On your stomach, elbows on ground, chest up – lift left leg and twist it across body so your toe taps the floor to the outside of your right leg.  Return to start and alternate this cross-body motion on both sides, keeping upper body still and focusing on opening up hip flexors.
Elbow plank with alternating wide toe taps
Iron cross – Lie on your back with arms straight out to sides and legs wide. Lift right leg straight across body to meet opposite hand, and return to center.  Alternate sides for x secs/reps, focusing on glutes, hips and hamstrings. (Iron cross can also be done standing as a dynamic warmup – kick leg up to meet opposite hand)
Around the world plank – one by one, lift and lower each limb slowly and with control in a clockwise fashion; reverse direction halfway through
Bridges – lie on back, knees bent, feet together, soles pressed into floor. Lift pelvis using core until torso and legs form a diagonal; squeeze glutes at the top. Keeping flutes engaged, slowly lower to floor. Repeat for 30-60 seconds.
Flutter kicks – lie on back, legs straight, hands under low back for support. Tuck pelvis and make tiny rapid fluttering kicks with feet, floating them just a  few inches off the floor while keeping upper body flat on floor.
Balance (5 minutes with no rest – just keep alternating legs for each exercise)

Basic balance: stand on one foot and slowly swing the other leg forward and back to center; out to the side and back in; and behind you and back to center.  Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Hip abduction: stand on one leg, raising other knee to waist height.  Abduct your hip so that you “open the gate”, with your knee pointing out to the side…you’re gonna look a bit like you’ve got a lil’ Captain in ya…then slowly adduct so your knee points forward again. Stay on the same foot and slowly repeat this open/close motion for 30 seconds.

Single leg toe touch:  stand on left foot, right foot hovering off ground in front of you. Bending @ waist, reach with right hand to touch left foot; stand up straight to complete rep. Keeping a slow, steady pace, repeat for 30 sec, then switch sides. (note: you can add a dumbbell to your toe-touching hand when you’re ready to progress this exercise)

Single leg squat with contralateral toe touch – as you squat on your right leg, touch the outside of your left foot with your right hand before standing straight up to complete one rep.  Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

squattouch

Single-leg curtsy squat with front leg swing:  shallow single leg squat, free leg bent back behind – as you stand, straighten leg and swing it in front of body, then behind for the next squat – repeat for 30 sec each side.

Cardio (5-10 minutes, depending on how long your intervals are)
Speed skaters
Mountain climbers
Reverse lunge with kick punch – from a standing position, step back with right foot into a reverse lunge.  From this position, you’ll smoothly stand as you front kick with your right leg and punch the air in front of you with your left hand @ the same time. Put some oomph behind it!  Repeat the lunge to kick-punch for 30 seconds on this side, then switch to lunge and kick with left leg as you punch with right hand for 30 seconds.
Burpees  (or cross-climber burpees)
crossclimberright
Bonus – if you are working out with a friend or a team, throw this in at the end for one last core/cardio exercise:
Partner leg throwdown: Lie on your back, head in front of your partner’s toes, and grasp their ankles/calves for support.  You’ll lift your legs and they’ll throw them back down to the ground, alternating left, right or middle – your job is to use your core to stop your legs before they hit the ground, then immediately raise them for the next throw. Repeat for 60 seconds and switch.
Cooldown stretch (click for how-to)
hipstretch1
hipstretch3
Please let me know if you have any questions, if you enjoyed this workout and if you’d like to see more like this!

Offskates workout with ACRD

 

 

Pyro

 

I had the privilege of guest-coaching an off-skates workout for my beloved Assassination City Roller Derby recently, and I wanted to make it available for anyone to do at home. This circuit takes 20-30 minutes, depending on how long your rest breaks are in between exercises.  You can do this pretty much anywhere – it requires no equipment and you don’t need shoes.

 

Off skates with Pyro – 6/29/14

Warmup (5 minutes)
Neck/shoulder/arm rolls
Windmill – stand in an A-frame, arms straight out to sides parallel to floor. Keeping arms straight bend and twist at waist to touch right toes with left hand. Return to start position and twist to touch left toes with right hand. Alternate for 20 seconds.
airplanearms
Marching, high knees, butt kicks
Balboas –  jogging in place while shadowboxing high in the air as if punching a speedbag
10 jumping jacks
10 cross jacks  (arms crossed in front instead of overhead)
10 squat jacks (sink into sumo squat with each jump)
Core (5-10 minutes)
Cat/cow for 15-20 sec to loosen the spine, then  30-60 seconds of each exercise with 10-15 sec rest in between.
 cat camel
Scorpions – On your stomach, elbows on ground, chest up – lift left leg and twist it across body so your toe taps the floor to the outside of your right leg.  Return to start and alternate this cross-body motion on both sides, keeping upper body still and focusing on opening up hip flexors.
Elbow plank with alternating wide toe taps
Iron cross – Lie on your back with arms straight out to sides and legs wide. Lift right leg straight across body to meet opposite hand, and return to center.  Alternate sides for x secs/reps, focusing on glutes, hips and hamstrings. (Iron cross can also be done standing as a dynamic warmup – kick leg up to meet opposite hand)
Around the world plank – one by one, lift and lower each limb slowly and with control in a clockwise fashion; reverse direction halfway through
Bridges – lie on back, knees bent, feet together, soles pressed into floor. Lift pelvis using core until torso and legs form a diagonal; squeeze glutes at the top. Keeping flutes engaged, slowly lower to floor. Repeat for 30-60 seconds.
Flutter kicks – lie on back, legs straight, hands under low back for support. Tuck pelvis and make tiny rapid fluttering kicks with feet, floating them just a  few inches off the floor while keeping upper body flat on floor.
Balance (5 minutes with no rest – just keep alternating legs for each exercise)

Basic balance: stand on one foot and slowly swing the other leg forward and back to center; out to the side and back in; and behind you and back to center.  Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

 

Hip abduction: stand on one leg, raising other knee to waist height.  Abduct your hip so that you “open the gate”, with your knee pointing out to the side…you’re gonna look a bit like you’ve got a lil’ Captain in ya…then slowly adduct so your knee points forward again. Stay on the same foot and slowly repeat this open/close motion for 30 seconds.

 

Single leg deadlift:  stand on left foot, right foot hovering off ground in front of you. Bending @ waist, reach with right hand to touch left foot; stand up straight to complete rep. Keeping a slow, steady pace, repeat for 30 sec, then switch sides.

 

Single leg squat with contralateral toe touch – as you squat on your right leg, touch the outside of your left foot with your right hand before standing straight up to complete one rep.  Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

squattouch

 

 

Single-leg curtsy squat with front leg swing:  shallow single leg squat, free leg bent back behind – as you stand, straighten leg and swing it in front of body, then behind for the next squat – repeat for 30 sec each side.

Cardio (5-10 minutes, depending on how long your intervals are)
Speed skaters
Mountain climbers
Reverse lunge with kick punch – from a standing position, step back with right foot into a reverse lunge.  From this position, you’ll smoothly stand as you front kick with your right leg and punch the air in front of you with your left hand @ the same time. Put some oomph behind it!  Repeat the lunge to kick-punch for 30 seconds on this side, then switch to lunge and kick with left leg as you punch with right hand for 30 seconds.
Burpees  (or cross-climber burpees)
crossclimberright
Bonus – if you are working out with a friend or a team, throw this in at the end for one last core/cardio exercise:
Partner leg throwdown: Lie on your back, head in front of your partner’s toes, and grasp their ankles/calves for support.  You’ll lift your legs and they’ll throw them back down to the ground, alternating left, right or middle – your job is to use your core to stop your legs before they hit the ground, then immediately raise them for the next throw. Repeat for 60 seconds and switch.
Please let me know if you have any questions, if you enjoyed this workout and if you’d like to see more like this!

Midnight Mile

As 2013 drew to a close, I kissed my sleeping husband, deactivated my Facebook account and hit the trail for a midnight mile (1.11 miles actually, which was unintentional but pleasantly significant to my pattern-loving brain).

It was 39 degrees and crystal-clear – the sky a canopy of constellations.  I ran without music, listening to my breath and my feet and the fountains in the neighborhood lake. I was the only one on the trail, the only one who saw the Christmas lights reflecting off the water’s surface in kaleidoscopic swirls as 2014 came racing in. I love that feeling – knowing I’m experiencing a bit of magic that nobody else will ever see.

When I was done, I laid in the grass and looked up at the stars, thanking the universe and the power behind it for a blessed old year and offering up my promises and goals for the new year.  I stopped referring to them as resolutions last year, but I remain resolute in the best sense of the word – unwavering and determined.

Here’s what I plan to do in the new year.

  • Reevaluate and reorganize how I spend my free time: I deactivated my Facebook account for a temporary and as-yet-undetermined amount of time. Without that massive time suck (which is, admittedly, my favorite place on the internet), I can accomplish my other goals more quickly and completely.
  • Publish my first book: I’ve been creating/testing recipes for the nutrition-conscious and for athletes with dietary restrictions for a few years now. I’d love to share them in a beautiful book full of well-photographed dishes interspersed with colorful anecdotes and pictures of my derby and running adventures.  I plan to include a companion booklet full of advice for new athletes (particularly Fresh Meat, as I feel that there are not enough off-skates resources out there for the budding derby athlete), some basic sport-specific starter workout programs and a training log.
  • Start a YouTube Channel: with the help of a filmmaker friend, I’ll soon have my own YouTube cooking show. You’ll get simple, healthy recipes prepared in typical Pyro style – light on grace and poise but heavy on clumsiness and sass. Tune in to see if I drop a knife on my bare foot or just spill the sauce all over my dogs!
  • Run my third – and possibly fourth and fifth – half marathon, while training for my first full 26.2.  The upcoming half is Cowtown and I’m running for ALZ Stars to raise money for Alzheimer’s Association.  If you’d like for the name of one of your relatives to be honored/commemorated, please email me or comment below – the names of my grandmother and grandfather will be written on my race shirt, as well as the names of friends’ loved ones who are battling or have battled the disease. (If you’d like to make a donation, no amount is too small – and I will match it and add your name to my “gets a free cookbook” list)
  • Settle into a church home and find volunteer opportunities within the organization: this is potentially happening already, and I am as excited about this as I was about falling in love with my husband. I have a big crush on a church that feeds hundreds of local families from its gardens and mobile food bank, hosts a 5K to benefit youth mission trips and has a dynamic children’s Sunday school program and a passionate, enthusiastic minister. We’re obviously still in the honeymoon stage – but then again, I still feel that way about my husband 5 years after finding him. Sometimes you just know.
  • Be the best mother, wife, sister, aunt and daughter I can be: this sounds like one of those vague resolutions I dread, but I have a very specific set of subgoals that will help me fulfill this promise to myself and to my family. Some hinge upon each other, like retiring from derby (that one was checked off early thanks to herniated discs and nerve damage) so I’l be free to attend my daughter’s soccer games and other activities. Some have already been stated above.  Most are listed only in my head and in my heart, and they are referred to multiple times a day.

I’m incredibly excited about the Year of the Green Wood Horse – 14’s my lucky number. :-)  I hope this is a wonderful, fulfilling year for you all.

One-Exercise Workouts: the Cross-Climber Burpee

I’m a big fan of timesaving, full-body workouts that can be done virtually anywhere with no equipment.  Seriously, there are ZERO excuses to skip a workout with that kind of resume. My favorites include core work, cardio and plyometrics to keep me in top form for derby and running.

I call this a One-Exercise Workout, but it’s really a couple of exercises blended together into one super ass-kicker.  Push through these as hard and as fast as you can while maintaining your form – make sure you’re landing lightly and if you feel a sudden or sharp pain, stop immediately.  These are not for the faint of heart, so be ready to ache afterward – but the results are absolutely worth the burn.  Plus, as soon as you’re done with the set, you’re done with your workout – simple, huh?

 

Cross-Climber Burpee:

Start position:  standing straight, legs together, arms by sides, shoulders back.

Drop to a crouch, hands on the floor slightly in front of your feet.

burpeecrouch

Jump feet back to land in plank position.

 

plank

 

Holding your plank, pick up right leg and twist lower body to tap right knee against left elbow.  Return to center and repeat on left side, tapping left knee to right elbow.

 

crossclimberrightcrossclimberleft

 

Return to plank (if you’re feeling particularly masochistic, you can throw in a push-up at this point) and hop legs back into a crouch.

burpeecrouch

From here, you’re going to spring up into the air!  Jump up as high as you can…arms outstretched over your head if you have the ceiling room, or clasped behind your head if your Hobbit house was built in the 1950s like mine.  Imagine your legs as springs, propelling you to the ceiling.

jump

Land lightly in a crouch – that’s one rep!  Shoot those legs back out into a plank and hit it again!

As for sets, play around with what works for your timeframe. When I’m rushed for time, I like to do mine Tabata-style – 20 seconds of 100% effort as I do as many as I can as quickly as possible, followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeated 8 times.  That’s a 4 minute workout that hits every muscle while increasing my endurance, boosting my metabolism and making my butt look fantastic in shiny shorts. You can’t beat that with a bat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insert Balls Joke Here

My gym is filled with pink balls.  They’re deceptively innocent-looking, but don’t let their bouncy appearance fool you – my balls really make my clients sweat. Exercise balls are a fun way to challenge your balance and build core strength – plus a swiss ball is WAY more fun to sit on than an office chair.

I try to do this workout once every other week to mix up my usual skating, running and lifting routine. It’s a nice change of pace and the word “balls” never fails to make me smile. I run through this routine 2-3 times, resting no more than 3 minutes between each set and no more than 30 seconds between each exercise. Sometimes I’ll take the 3rd set to failure (meaning I ignore the listed number of reps and just keep going ‘til I can’t any more) – this method of training can help you push past fat loss plateaus.  Remember, the more intense your workout is, the more calories you’ll burn (and the less mindless cardio you’ll have to do).

What you’ll need:

A swiss ball (make sure you have the appropriate size for your height)

A medicine ball (6-12lbs is a good starting weight)

The workout:

Stretch and warm-up

Ball Plank: This move takes a basic elbow plank up a notch by forcing your core to work harder to stay balanced.  Hold for 30 seconds.

Elbow plank on swiss ball

 

** When the plank becomes too easy, you can ramp it up by doing plank rollouts: from your elbow plank position, use your arms to roll the ball 2-3 inches forward, keeping your core tight. Pause for a breath and roll ball back to start position.  Repeat 12-15 times.  You don’t need to roll it out more than a couple of inches to feel the effect of this move. I also draw tiny circles or figure 8s with the ball when I’m feeling particularly masochistic.

Ball pike to pushup: This is a compound exercise that hits pretty much every muscle! Start in a straight arm plank with feet on swiss ball.

Ball pike - neutral position

Bend knees and tuck butt under, curling ball toward body.

Ball pike tuck

Straighten legs to return to start position, then immediately do a pushup.

Ball pike pushup

Return to start position.  That’s one rep!  Do 12-15 reps of this one. Aren’t balls fun?

Trunk rotation:

Lie on your back in bridge position with your shoulders centered on your swiss ball.  Keep your core tight and let your head lie back – don’t strain your neck. Hold your medicine ball above your chest, arms straight.

Ball rotation neutral

Keeping your core tight and your legs and feet still, slowly rotate torso as far as you can to the side while maintaining balance and keeping arms straight.  Pause for a moment, then slowly return to start position, using your core to maintain balance.

Ball rotation side

Repeat on other side.  That’s one rep – aim for 12-15.

Grab a drink of water and put your swiss ball aside – time for some allover toning with your medicine ball.

 

Squat press:

Stand straight up, shoulders back, chest out and hold your medicine ball at chest level with your elbows near your sides.

squatpressneutral

Bend your knees and push your butt back into a squat, keeping your weight in your heels and your knees behind your toes.  (If you have knee problems, don’t take any squat below 60°)  Make sure your knees are parallel to each other and not dipping inward.  At the same time, straighten your arms at chest level and push the ball out in front of your body.  Keep your shoulders down, core tight and chest up.

squatpress

Straighten legs to return to start position, squeezing your glutes as you drive through your legs to power back to standing.  Bend elbows and draw ball back to chest. Repeat 12-15 times.

 

Single-leg woodchops:

These are fantastic for balance and will make every square inch of your body burn.  Do these as quickly as you can with proper form and burn even more calories while building muscle all over.

Stand on right leg, left knee bent and held at waist height.  Hold your medicine ball in both hands and rest it on your knee.

woodchop1

Maintaining balance on your right, leg, straighten your left leg and float it diagonally off the ground as you straighten your arms and raise the medicine ball diagonally overhead to your right.

woodchop2

Now, quickly and forcefully bring the medicine ball down in a chopping motion as you bend your left knee and bring it back to your starting position to meet the ball. Don’t make contact with the ball with your knee – use your upper body and core to stop the motion of the ball just before they connect.  That’s one rep.  Complete 12-15 on your right leg, then shake it out and switch to your left leg.  Almost done!

Lateral lunge with medicine ball taps:

Start standing straight up, legs together, medicine ball held at chest level with elbows by sides. Take a big step to the left and bend your left knee, sinking into a side lunge. Keep that knee behind those toes!  Tap the ball on the ground in front of your left foot, then return to your start position and immediately repeat the lunge on your right side. Aim for 12-15 lunges on each side without stopping.

laterallunge

Roll that swiss ball back out and drape yourself across it, face up or face down, for a fantastic spinal stretch after all your hard work.  Let me know if you enjoyed this workout!  I always welcome feedback.

Plyometrics and sock derby

Our rec league, Internal Affairs, accepts new skaters at the first 2 practices of every month. These intake practices usually focus on basic on-skates skills – stops, falls, crossovers and all of the other little details that make an athlete proficient on her skates.

The problem with this structure is that it takes some skaters several months to actually play the sport – and as anyone who’s played roller derby can attest, you spend your first year of contact figuring out what you’re doing besides just turning left and bouncing off of people. We spend so much time teaching people to pass their minimum skills assessments that we don’t always get to teach them actual gameplay ‘til much later.

Then there’s the fact that many new skaters haven’t built up their fast-twitch muscle fibers yet.  Fast-twitch fiber is crucial for explosive, powerful movement, but it’s hard to develop those fibers on skates – your wheels don’t provide enough resistance with the ground to build the muscles you need to skate the way you want to.

So tonight, we did things a bit differently. I ran a full hour of cardio/endurance, plyometrics, agility, blocking/timing drills and scrimmage completely on foot.  Then we geared up and rolled for real for the last 30 minutes.

My thoughts: it mostly went exactly as planned. I had to cut the skating time a bit because we spent so much time offskates (I originally promised only 30 minutes on foot), but we needed it.  I watched lightbulbs come on over several heads as the stress of trying to figure out how to skate was removed and my girls could just concentrate on gameplay. Some of my freshest meat are the hardest hitters with the best timing when on foot!  It was enlightening and I can’t wait to try it again.

Here is the workout in its entirety.  Let me know if you have any questions or would like clarifications on any exercises or drills.

What you’ll need for this workout: a rink or other flat area to run across, preferably with a derby track already clearly marked; an agility ladder (if you don’t have one, you can use duct tape or chalk to make one on the floor/ground); shoes or socks you can run and hop in; jerseys and helmet covers.

Dynamic warm-up: neck/shoulder/arm circles, windmill toe touches, butt kicks, high knees, standing iron cross, inchworm/dogwalk series [toe touch, inchworm out to downward dog; alternate bending and straightening legs to stretch calves and hamstrings. Lift each leg and draw circles in both directions in the air before walking hands back in to toetouch, then slowly roll up, one vertebra at a time, ‘til you’re standing up straight].

Plyometrics and conditioning:

Side-step squats – step right and squat, back to neutral, then left and squat – repeat for 30 sec

Mohawk squats – legs wide, toes pointed out – down on a 2 count, up on 2 count for 30 sec

Crossover steps – (three lateral steps, then reverse direction by springing off outside foot) – start slowly, speed up – 30 sec

Speed skaters for 30 sec – mountain climbers for 30 sec

Agility ladder – one in, two in, two up one back, out in, ali shuffle (both sides)

Quick feet to burpee – jog down rink – quick feet to burpee – side shuffle back

Quick feet to burpee – skip down rink – quick feet to burpee – side shuffle opposite side back

WATER

Discussion and demonstration: legal blocking zones

Partner up for squat bumps – standing still, hip to hip – get low and pop up – 30 sec each side

Stagger partners so that one is behind and slightly to the side of the other – have partner in back step around partner in front, first gaining position, then using hip/booty to make contact – switch positions after a minute on each side

Blocking/timing drill: Snake line in center of track – person in back comes up outside and each person hipchecks them to outside – then hipcheck up inside – have them walking quickly with light feet (“scampering”)

Stop line – number off, grab jerseys and panties

Sock derby: 4-6 jams – play full 5 on 5, with penalties served by doing 10 push-ups, then rejoining pack  – stop in between jams to answer questions, repeat rules, etc

WATER

Put on skates

Partner snake drill: skate in pairs through double line, focusing on matching speed and timing your cuts – use verbal communication and touch your partner’s hips or thighs to stay close.

Blocking/timing drill: single paceline on track – skater in back comes up outside and each skater in line hipchecks them to outside – then come up inside – do both sides twice. Focus on not cutting the track as a jammer and staying in-bounds as a blocker.

Truck and trailer demo: how to swing off your partner’s hips to block jammer

Partner up – practice swinging off each other’s hips, skating around derby track (choose a couple of jammers to dummy-jam through a few times, then pass the panties off to another pair)

Cooldown laps – opposite direction

Cooldown stretch

Full-body burnout with Loca and Pyro

My best friend Loca took the day off work to train with me yesterday.  Loca’s back and arms make grown men cry (and her one-armed pull-ups make me a little weepy myself), so I knew I’d have to bring my A game to challenge her obscenely high level of fitness. My plan – compound moves, plenty of core and lots of plyometrics.

We took the TRX suspension trainer (one of my favorite training toys), a 10lb medicine ball and our yoga mats out to the lake for some fresh air and Vitamin D.  The TRX easily hitches to any tree, but you can also hang it over a closet door if your weather isn’t as comfortable as ours was. Most of the exercises in the entire workout require very little space to perform.

Dynamic warmup

20 windmill toetouches
20 standing iron cross kicks
20 standing single leg pikes
20 sidestep squats
20 side lunges with warrior arms
20 lateral shuffles with side kick
10 jumping jacks
10 cross jacks
10 burpees

20 Single leg hip rotations
20 curtsy squats
60sec curb step-ups

10lb medicine ball:
20 single leg woodchops
20 single leg deadlifts
10 squats with front raise

TRX suspension trainer:
10 squat to low row
30sec plank with scissor legs
10 mountain climbers
10 bicep curls
10 chest press

10 jumping jacks
10 cross jacks
10 burpees

60sec Elbow plank with toe taps
60sec bicycle crunches
30sec flutter kicks
10 spiderman push-ups
10 inchworms with push-ups

Yoga cool down

Best Stretch Ever

I figured I’d ease you into my blog by teaching you one of my favorite stretches (look, if I went straight to spiderman pushups on our first day together, you’d probably close this tab and search for muffin recipes instead).  This is a great cooldown stretch after a derby practice or offskates workout – your hip flexors will thank you for it.

Anyone who’s ever skated one of my practices knows how much I love a good cooldown stretch. A cooldown stretch is much more important than you think – if you’re just hopping off the rink without giving your muscles time to slowly release some of that built-up tension, you’re putting yourself at risk for soreness, fatigue or injury.

This is my absolute favorite stretch ever – it targets your back, shoulders, hips and legs, plus it helps slow down your heartrate and breathing and gives you a nice warm fuzzy feeling. I’ve heard it called the Py-retzel, since the end result is rather pretzel-like. I try to do it at the end of every practice and I always hear such happy sighs all around.

How to twist one up:

Lie on your back, right leg straight and flat on the ground and bend your left knee, pulling it in toward your chest.  Hold it here for a few seconds, then open your hip a little and pull knee in toward armpit to get a deeper stretch.

Lift right leg straight up so that it’s perpendicular to your body and cross your bent left leg so your left foot rests over the top of your right thigh. Your legs will form a figure 4. With your left arm on the inside of your right thigh and your right arm on the outside, clasp your hands behind your thigh and gently pull it toward your chest.  You can bend your right knee a bit as you pull to get a deeper stretch through your hip.

Image

Release right thigh and lower leg to the floor.  Keeping left knee bent, gently twist your torso so that your left knee touches the ground next to the right side of your body. Try to keep both shoulderblades pressed firmly into the floor as you take a few breaths and allow your spine to release.  Straighten your body out, give your legs a little shake and repeat on the other side.

If you’re flexible and would like a deeper stretch, you can bend your bottom leg and catch the toes of your foot in your hand, using your other hand on the knee of your top leg to counter-balance the stretch.

Image,

I usually follow this one up by rolling onto my stomach, pushing into upward dog, then pushing back into child’s pose for a few breaths before I take off my gear.  No matter how charged up I am from practice, my muscles and mind immediately feel more zen for the drive home.