Yoga for Roller Derby Resources

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Yoga for Crossovers

If you’re struggling with crossovers, these stretching and strengthening moves will help you make them happen. Work on your crossovers off-skates to build the core and hip support to do them on-skates! You’ll want two blocks or thick books–kneepads are optional to help recreate what happens on the track.

Low Back Rehab for Roller Derby

Feeling the hurt from practice last night and constantly turning left? You probably need some post-roller derby low back rehab. This video of mostly symmetrical movements for the lower back will help you get things back in balance and carry on with your day.

Yoga Isn’t Just Stretching

Yoga isn't just stretching, which is why it's super helpful for skaters and other athletes. You can build strength, focus, a better way to breathe, and yes, flexibility, that'll benefit you on the track.

I need to clear something up, hopefully once and for all: yoga isn’t just stretching.

I’m not sure when this became the predominant understanding of yoga. As someone who came to the practice from athletics (running and roller derby), I can assure you that when I started practicing, I was not very flexible. In fact, even when I did my yoga teacher training, I could only do a fraction of the things that the rest of my cohort could. Even now, one of the reasons that I don’t post a lot of “advanced” poses on my Instagram or here is because I don’t do them, because it wouldn’t be safe for my body.

I know that I’ve been guilty of talking about yoga in terms of mobility and flexibility only, too. For an athlete like you, some flexibility IS a useful benefit! The thing is, though: it doesn’t actually matter in the grand scheme of things if you can touch your toes. It doesn’t actually matter if you do super deep backbends, or mermaid, or whatever the latest Instagram yoga craze is.

What matters is that your body is able to move in a way that allows you to do the things that you love. Like, say, play roller derby.

Yoga can be super helpful for you as a skater because:

  • Yoga helps you get more focused. When you move through a sequence, especially if it’s a little slower, it can be an ongoing battle with your mind to stay tuned in to what you’re doing. That’s part of the practice! That hour-long class, or five sun salutations in the morning, or whatever your yoga looks like, is a chance to notice each moment, each movement, each sensation–and to keep bringing your mind back to that every single time it wanders off. That might be 1000 times in five minutes. That’s cool. Come back to your experience each. and. every. single. time. The next time your mind is tempted to run away when you’re skating, you’ll be able to keep your head in the game and not take a hit from out of nowhere!
  • Yoga helps you grow stronger. C’mon, I know you didn’t think arm balancing was possible simply because of flexibility. Hello, core strength! Yep, that’ll help with your blocking, your transitions, and generally staying upright on the track.
  • Yoga helps you breathe better. I know there are a metric shit-ton of cheesy videos out there of yoga teachers talking you through breathing with the sound of the ocean in the background, or whatever. Guess what? They don’t have to be YOUR yoga teachers if that’s not your thing. How you breathe affects your nervous system. Your nervous system affects how your body moves and reacts. If you’re breathing effectively, you’ll be able to respond more effectively. Enough said.
  • Yes, yoga helps you with mobility. Have you ever seen one of those dudes with huge muscles, no neck, and barely any ability to move (and possibly zero ability to wipe his own ass on the toilet because of it)? You DO NOT want to be that guy. Roller derby is a sport that requires movement in all different directions, so you need your muscles to be responsive. This is where some degree of flexibility is hella important! You want to find the balance between strength and flexibility, and a good yoga teacher can work with you to do that. And sometimes, a slow stretchy yoga class after a rough bout can be nice to keep your muscles moving and help with recovery.

Like I said above, you don’t need to be able to touch your toes, today or ever. Your heels don’t have to touch the floor in downward-facing dog. You don’t need to become a super-bendy Instagram-famous yoga practitioner. But you do need to be strong, stay focused, keep breathing, and be mobile on the track.

Yoga can help with all of those pieces, and it doesn’t have to come along with all the woo-woo bullshit, either.

Ready to get more of the benefits of yoga (and learn how to stretch for roller derby, too)?

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Are You Blocking for the Wrong Team?

Lemony Kickit and Kandy Kakes, Bronx Gridlock 2007. Photo by Asa Frye.

Lemony Kickit and Kandy Kakes, Bronx Gridlock 2007. Photo by Asa Frye.

Are you blocking for the wrong team? If you’re beating yourself up every time you make a mistake on the track, then basically: yes, you are. And taking yourself out of the game–knocking yourself down mentally and emotionally for not doing everything right–isn’t going to help your jammer or the rest of your team.

How do you respond when things don’t go the way you want, expect, or hope?

It’s important to be able to keep yourself in check mentally during a scrimmage or bout. It’s okay to have “oh shit!” moments, or to falter and feel down on yourself when you feel like you’ve screwed up on the track. It’s quite normal, in fact–as long as you don’t spend the rest of practice/the bout/the night obsessing over that one moment.

And if you do? You’re in good company. You’re not the only one who’s ever done this!

Here’s the thing: once you recognize it as a thing that you do, you’ve got the power to change it. Don’t let your mental game stop you from getting out there and doing your best. Your best isn’t going to be Scald Eagle’s best, or Bonnie Thunders’ best, or Smarty Pants’ best, and that’s PERFECT. You’re an amazing and perfectly imperfect human and skater who’s kicking ass at being YOU.

Need some ideas for how to make the shift in your mental game? Here are six!

  1. Remember that one moment (or two, or five) doesn’t make up the entirety of who you are as a skater or human being. You’re so much more than that time you let the jammer get past you, or the time you didn’t make your 27/5, or the fact that your hockey stops need work. Think of one thing (or two, or five) right now that you’ve improved or done well at practice (or in life)!
  2. Remind yourself why you started doing this thing–derby, yoga, whatever–in the first place! Sometimes you’ve got to keep coming back to those little things that you love (for me, it’s the feeling of skating fast and of friends) to get your head back into it.
  3. Check your self-talk. You don’t suck! You made a mistake. It happens. You aren’t a failure, or terrible at derby or yoga! You’re learning. There is always going to be much more to learn, and you’re doing it. Notice when thoughts like that come up, and see if you can revise them.
  4. Enlist the support of someone you trust. I recently asked some close friends to slap me from their respective corners of the globe if they here me utter the words, “I’m a failure.” It’s resulted in a number of ridiculous GIFs being sent to me of scenes from tv shows with epic slaps.

    via GIPHY
    What you need from someone for support might be different; figure out what it is and ask someone you trust. (And if you need extra encouraging messages from me, email me, and I am seriously happy to send them to you. I think you’re fucking awesome, and I think you’ve got this.)
  5. Build your focus so that you don’t get so distracted by the little things. Flat Mat Mental Game is here for you with meditation mp3s and the Meditation for People Who (Think They) Hate Meditating e-book–in other words, lots of ideas for you to start incorporating more mindfulness and a stronger mental game on and off the track.
  6. When all else fails, take a little time after the moment to wallow. Set a timer, eat ice cream, cry, scream, punch a pillow or a heavy bag–and when the timer is up, have a dance party.

You get to choose how you respond. Choose to feel like you can move forward and keep working and striving. Because you? You’ve got this.

What’s one way you’re going to try to change your patterns?

yogastrong derbystrong challenge: day 10

2016-01-05 16.48.59

L-Shaped Forearm Stand

Props: none

  1. Start on forearms and knees with feet against the wall, hips stacked above knees, and shoulders stacked above elbows.
  2. Lift knees off the floor to come up to dolphin, with toes tucked under so that soles of feet press against the wall.
  3. Step feet onto the wall at hip-height, so that when you straighten your legs they are parallel to the floor. Your hips will come directly above your shoulders–or slightly past–which might feel a little terrifying.
  4. Hold for several steady breaths and then lower your feet and knees to the floor.

Alternative: Keep your knees down and work in dolphin prep, or come up to dolphin.

Badass challenge: Lift one foot away from the wall–or both!

– – – – –

I’m almost 50 years old, and I thought joint pain was inevitable with age and 7 years of skating. Turns out, it’s not. – Seven, Oklahoma Victory Dolls

NEW Flat Mat Minimum Skills

Looking for something to help your derby hips (and the rest of your body!)? Flat Mat Minimum Skills gives you a way to learn yoga and work on rocking your WFTDA minimum skills at the same time! It starts January 4, so you can have fun over the holidays and then crush your 2016 goals.

Flat Mat Regionals

Want your body to move better so that your muscles and joints don’t feel so abused? If you already know a little yoga, Flat Mat Regionals is your jam. With four weeks of yoga sequences designed specifically for roller derby, your grumpy knees and hips will be ready to roll again starting January 4.

yogastrong derbystrong challenge: day 9

2016-01-04 14.50.42

Triceps Tap Planks

Props: none

  1. Start in forearm plank.
  2. Exhale and tap left knee toward left triceps. Inhale and step left foot back.
  3. Repeat on the right side, then alternate 5-10 times.

Alternative: Have knees on the floor.

Badass challenge: Start in plank, and bend elbows for a push-up as you tap knee toward them. Press back up to plank as you inhale.

– – – – –

Flat Mat Regionals is the best yoga “class” I’ve ever taken–I could feel changes in a matter of a few days. Your body needs this, dammit! – Alpha Ginger, Ringleader Roller Girls

NEW Flat Mat Minimum Skills

Looking for something to help your derby hips (and the rest of your body!)? Flat Mat Minimum Skills gives you a way to learn yoga and work on rocking your WFTDA minimum skills at the same time! It starts January 4, so you can have fun over the holidays and then crush your 2016 goals.

Flat Mat Regionals

Want your body to move better so that your muscles and joints don’t feel so abused? If you already know a little yoga, Flat Mat Regionals is your jam. With four weeks of yoga sequences designed specifically for roller derby, your grumpy knees and hips will be ready to roll again starting January 4.

yogastrong derbystrong challenge: day 8

2016-01-03 17.05.17

Dolphin Push-ups

Props: none

  1. Start in dolphin..
  2. Inhale and glide forward as of you wanted to kiss the floor in front of you. (Hell, maybe you do!)
  3. Exhale and press back up. Repeat as many times as you can!

Alternative: Keep knees on the floor and do the same movement with upper body.

Badass challenge: Lift one leg before doing the push-up.

– – – – –

Kickit teaches yoga sequences that will both relieve and strengthen your body for derby – it’s a great way to cross train! – Sock Rae Blue, Carolina Rollergirls

NEW Flat Mat Minimum Skills

Looking for something to help your derby hips (and the rest of your body!)? Flat Mat Minimum Skills gives you a way to learn yoga and work on rocking your WFTDA minimum skills at the same time! It starts January 4, so you can have fun over the holidays and then crush your 2016 goals.

Flat Mat Regionals

Want your body to move better so that your muscles and joints don’t feel so abused? If you already know a little yoga, Flat Mat Regionals is your jam. With four weeks of yoga sequences designed specifically for roller derby, your grumpy knees and hips will be ready to roll again starting January 4.

yogastrong derbystrong challenge: day 7

2016-01-02 08.10.26

Dolphin

Props: two blocks or books (optional)

  1. Start on forearms and knees, and give your upper arms a hug to find shoulder-width apart. Place your hands back down and interlace your fingers.
  2. Press down with hands and forearms and take a few rounds of cow/cat (arch and round your spine). Try to feel the muscles below your armpits working as you round.
  3. From cat pose (rounded spine), tuck your toes and lift knees off the floor for dolphin.

Alternative: Keep knees on the floor and only work upper back and shoulders, OR lift knees but step feet wider apart and keep knees bent.

Badass challenge: Have palms flat on the floor with forearms shoulder-width apart. Alternately lift legs.

– – – – –

Flat Mat Regionals is like having a yoga teacher with derby experience living in your inbox. – Sock Rae Blue, Carolina Rollergirls

NEW Flat Mat Minimum Skills

Looking for something to help your derby hips (and the rest of your body!)? Flat Mat Minimum Skills gives you a way to learn yoga and work on rocking your WFTDA minimum skills at the same time! It starts January 4, so you can have fun over the holidays and then crush your 2016 goals.

Flat Mat Regionals

Want your body to move better so that your muscles and joints don’t feel so abused? If you already know a little yoga, Flat Mat Regionals is your jam. With four weeks of yoga sequences designed specifically for roller derby, your grumpy knees and hips will be ready to roll again starting January 4.

yogastrong derbystrong challenge: day 6

2016-01-01 07.37.10

Side Leg Lifts

Props: blocks, stacks of books, or a table or chair

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands on the props of your choosing. Have your arms far enough in front of your that you’re not hunching.
  2. Inhale and lift your right leg out toward the right. Have the action come from your outer hip muscles, NOT from your hips shifting to the left. Exhale and lower your leg.
  3. Lift up and down 5-10 times, and switch to the other leg.

Alternative: Don’t worry about how high you’re lifting your leg. Focus on the muscle use!

Badass challenge: Instead of having your hands on blocks, grab your right big toe and lift your right leg out to the side. Repeat on the left.

– – – – –

You need to do this. Your body needs it. DO IT. – Jude E Boom, Boulder County Bombers

NEW Flat Mat Minimum Skills

Looking for something to help your derby hips (and the rest of your body!)? Flat Mat Minimum Skills gives you a way to learn yoga and work on rocking your WFTDA minimum skills at the same time! It starts January 4, so you can have fun over the holidays and then crush your 2016 goals.

Flat Mat Regionals

Want your body to move better so that your muscles and joints don’t feel so abused? If you already know a little yoga, Flat Mat Regionals is your jam. With four weeks of yoga sequences designed specifically for roller derby, your grumpy knees and hips will be ready to roll again starting January 4.

yogastrong derbystrong challenge: day 5

2015-12-31 13.59.45

Locust Pose (Glute Variation)

Props: none

    1. While lying on your belly, rest your forehead on the back of your hands.
    2. Bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle, and place your left fingertips 2-3 inches down from the back of your pelvis–basically, right in the center of your left butt cheek.
    3. Inhale and slowly begin to lift your left thigh away from the floor. Exhale to lower it down. The back of your thigh will do some of the lifting, but you want to feel your gluteals start working underneath your fingertips!
    4. Lift up and down 10-20 times, and switch to the other leg.

Alternative: Don’t worry about how high you’re lifting your leg. Focus on the muscle use!

Badass challenge: Do this with your leg extended.

– – – – –

You need to do this. Your body needs it. DO IT. – Jude E Boom, Boulder County Bombers

NEW Flat Mat Minimum Skills

Looking for something to help your derby hips (and the rest of your body!)? Flat Mat Minimum Skills gives you a way to learn yoga and work on rocking your WFTDA minimum skills at the same time! It starts January 4, so you can have fun over the holidays and then crush your 2016 goals.

Flat Mat Regionals

Want your body to move better so that your muscles and joints don’t feel so abused? If you already know a little yoga, Flat Mat Regionals is your jam. With four weeks of yoga sequences designed specifically for roller derby, your grumpy knees and hips will be ready to roll again starting January 4.