Yoga & Summer Sports | Flexibility & Speed | Part 2 – by Stephanie Tencer #movementmonday

Shin splints, achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow? Sound familiar? What about shoulder pain or back pain? If you play sports and are finding yourself sore, tender or in pain after your game, you might need to increase your flexibility.

Flexibility in and of itself is a funny thing. Too much of it is not necessarily good, but too little of it is also not good. Having said that, a healthy degree of flexibility is important and will likely help to prevent or minimize that all too common but not so fun, post-game soreness.

Interestingly, athletes are often more stiff than the average person. This is partly because their routine movements can result in a shortening of certain muscles and rigidity in their joints. Yoga however, can effectively counteract these tendencies.

You may not have thought of it in this way before, but your flexibility also affects your speed. Put simply, as muscles become more flexible, movements can occur with greater ease. Malleability of the spinal muscles can decrease chances of injury, and freedom in the hip and knee joints is particularly important for sports where speed is an asset.

Whether you are swinging a racket, bouncing a ball, or riding a bicycle, the following asanas can help to up your game!

utthita hasta pad 1 w chair
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

•    Stand facing a chair (or a bench, a tree, a counter, etc.) and raise one leg up as shown in the photograph.
•    Straighten your standing leg and suck in at the outer hip.
•    Extend into the heel of your lifted leg and straighten that leg as well.
•    Imagine you have a third leg descending from the buttock of your lifted leg and reach it towards the floor to level your pelvis. As you do this, stay firm at the outer hip of your standing leg.
•    Roll the corners of your shoulders back and lift your chest vertically.
•    If you are steady, raise your arms up to the ceiling with your palms facing each other. From your wrists, lift the sides of your body up and out from the corners of your waist.
•    Hold for a few breaths and then repeat with the other leg.

Parsva Hasta Padangusthasana square
Parsva Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

•    Stand with your side body facing a chair (or a bench, a tree, a counter, etc.) and raise one leg up as shown in the photograph.
•    Straighten your standing leg and suck in at the outer hip.
•    Extend into the heel of your lifted leg and straighten that leg as well.
•    Rotate the thigh of your lifted leg strongly outward and cut that buttock under and into the body.
•    Simultaneously, press the thigh and hip of your standing leg back to create breadth across your front pelvis.
•    Roll the corners of your shoulders back and lift your chest vertically.
•    If you are steady, raise your arms up to the ceiling with your palms facing each other. From your wrists, lift the sides of your body up and out from the corners of your waist.
•    Hold for a few breaths and then repeat with the other leg.

Vira 2 square
Virabhadrasana II

•    Jump your legs apart and simultaneously extend your arms out to the side at shoulder height.
•    Turn your right leg out. Align the heel of your right foot with the arch of your left.
•    Straighten your left leg and bend your right knee. Look to see that the knee does not protrude beyond your ankle.
•    From deep within the hip socket, revolve your right thigh outward.
•    Take note: as you roll your thigh out, see that the knee stays stacked above your ankle. It shouldn’t sway towards your small toe.
•    Press your left thigh and hip back to broaden across your front pelvis.
•    Roll your shoulder blades down your back and lift your chest.
•    Hold for a few breaths and then repeat to the other side.

Trikonasana square

Utthita Trikonasana

•    Jump your legs apart and simultaneously extend your arms out to the side at shoulder height.
•    Turn your right leg out. Align the heel of your right foot with the arch of your left.
•    Straighten your legs and hinge from the top of your leg towards the right. Swing your right hand down to the floor, behind your right ankle.
•    Take note: if in your effort to reach the floor, you lose the length on the underside of your torso, place some height under your palm or hold the back of your calf instead.
•    Turn your torso toward the ceiling and extend your left arm straight up.
•    Hold for a few breaths and then repeat to the other side.

AMS square

Adho Mukha Svanasana

•    Kneeling on the floor on all 4s, tuck your toes under and lift yourself up as shown in the photograph.
•    Lift your kneecaps, lift your thighs, & lift the corner of your hips.
•    Keeping the height of your hips, press your thighs back.
•    With your palms open and pressing down, turn your upper arms outward and lift your shoulder blades up (almost as if you wanted to lift them right off your neck!).
•    Hold for 1-3 minutes.

Baddha Konasana square
Baddha Konasana

•    In a seated position, match the soles of your feet together.
•    Press the soles of your feet together and also press the small toe edge of each foot down into the ground.
•    From deep in the hip sockets, externally rotate your thighs.
•    Hold your ankles and pulling back against this tension, lift your chest vertically.
•    Take note: if in the seated position you find yourself rolling toward the back of your buttock bones, sit yourself higher. Place a block/blanket/towel/etc. under your buttocks so that you can centre yourself on your buttock bones.
•    Take note #2: if when you hold your ankles you are unable to lift up through the side trunk, instead, place your hands on the floor by your hips. Cup your fingertips and as you press them down, lengthen the sides of your body upwards.

Happy practicing!!!!!! Be sure to check back again next week, as we will be exploring poses aimed at improving STABILITY.


steph2Stephanie Tencer is an Iyengar-certified Yoga teacher and co-founder of Studio Po. Through Yoga, Stephanie has overcome chronic and debilitating back pain. Today, she continues to be inspired by the sense of playfulness and self-discovery that Iyengar Yoga affords. studiopoyoga.com

 

 


Special thanks to Dri Fischer, Iyengar Yoga Teacher in Training for helping with the photo shoot!