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.

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 3

 

2015-12-29 11.24.27
Side Plank Crunches

Props: none

    1. Set up in forearm plank, and then roll onto the outer edge of your left foot and lift right arm toward the ceiling for side plank. Looking down at the floor will be the most stabilizing for your balance, and looking up at the ceiling will be the most challenging.
    2. Inhale and lift your right foot up and stretch your right arm alongside your right ear.
    3. Exhale and touch your right elbow and right knee in a crunch.
    4. Repeat 5-10 times, and then swap to the other side.

Alternative: Lower your bottom knee to the floor as you do this, or just lift your top leg and arm but skip the crunches.

Badass challenge: Look up at the ceiling rather than at the floor or off to the side, and yep, move sloooooooowly.

– – – – –

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 2

2015-12-28 09.49.00

Hybrid Forearm Plank

Props: none

    1. Set up on forearms and knees, and give your upper arms a hug to find shoulder-width apart. Plant your hands and forearms down.
    2. Step your feet back to plank, and lift one arm up off the floor. You’ll be twisting from your midsection up; your toes will stay tucked under on the floor.
    3. Inhale while lifting your left arm, and exhale while lowering it back down.
    4. Alternate left and right hands for 30-60 seconds.

Alternative: Lower your knees to the floor as you do this.

Badass challenge: Move as slowly as possible, and hold for a couple breaths with each arm lifted!

– – – – –

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 1

2015-12-27 13.25.19

Sliding Plank

Props: a non-carpeted floor, socks or hand towels

    1. Put socks on your hands or hand towels under your hands.
    2. Exhale and stabilize your midsection and then begin to move your hands.
    3. Inhale while sliding your left hand forward, and exhale while sliding it back. Your hips don’t wobble as you move your hands!
    4. Alternate left and right hands for 30-60 seconds.

Alternative: Lower your knees to the floor as you do this.

Badass challenge: After you finish the arm movements, come to downward facing dog and hold with the socks still on!

Use Your Obliques

Okay, so you know that six-packs are bullshit, and you’ve started learning to use your deep abdominals. Awesome! And just like in roller derby, where you build on basic moves and grow as a skater, you do the same thing with yoga. You learn how to access one muscle, and then start working with it along with another. Or you learn how to do a basic pose, and then build on it in various ways.

I mean, you didn’t think your core was only one muscle, right?

External Obliques

Enter: your obliques. They’re the abdominal muscles located on the sides that allow you to rotate your torso and do side bends. They also are a part of the team that helps stabilize you for a lot of actions that you do on the track: think actions like juking, or other times when you’re shifting your weight side-to-side. Which, really, is quite a lot of the game!

When you combine the strength of your deeper abdominal muscles at the front of your pelvis, and your obliques at your sides, you’re starting to create a deep bench at your core. That translates to more stability as you move–and getting knocked down less means you stay in the game–as well as less low back pain. I know the saying is “no pain, no gain”, but I think we can all agree that low back pain isn’t helping you skate better.

Ready to use your obliques? Try this!

 

Moving Supine Twist

Lie on your back, and bring your thighs parallel to the floor. You can have your knees bent or legs extended; try it out with your knees bent first to make sure you’ve got the form down. Make sure that your legs are parallel to the floor and aren’t inching close to your torso!

Reach your arms out into a T-shape, with palms pressing down onto the floor.

Inhale fully. Hold your breath and draw your belly button in toward your spine. As you exhale, begin to lower your legs toward your right. They don’t need to come anywhere near the floor! Keep your hands and arms connected to the floor to the best of your ability–your left shoulder will probably lift up, and that’s a-okay!–and hold for a breath.

Obliques2

Inhale to lift back to center, hold your breath and draw your belly button toward your spine, and exhale to lower your legs to your left.

Obliques1

Repeat 3-5 times on each side–or maybe more! Form is key to feel the correct actions in this one, so stay focused on that rather than how close you can get your legs to the floor.

Three important things to watch:

  1. Be sure that your legs stay parallel to the floor! If you let them come closer to your torso, you won’t feel the action nearly as well.
  2. Watch what you’re doing with your head. If you’re trying to lower your legs too far, you might start using your head and neck to stabilize you, rather than your abs. You don’t want to end up with wacky neck issues while you’re trying to help your low back.
  3. If you’re working with legs extended, press out through the balls of your feet as you move. Get those sweet, strong derby legs involved in the process!

How are your obliques feeling now?

Regionals ad for website resized - Nov 2015

 

— Anatomical image by Stephanie Cost.

How to Strengthen Your Core

Six-packs are bullshit. That’s what I tell people in many of my core-focused classes, and I want the rest of you to hear it, too. The best way to strengthen your core probably doesn’t involve most of the motions that you’ve been taught to get rock hard abs.

When you overly strengthen rectus abdominis–the six-pack muscles–you’re not really helping your stability or your low back problems. What you are doing is:

  • preventing yourself from breathing fully, which is pretty important for a cardio-heavy sport like roller derby;
  • doing wacky things to your posture and possibly making your low back pain worse;
  • compressing your internal organs, so they might not do their jobs as well as they should; and
  • creating a muscle that limits your range of motion, the same way that your it feels like your hip flexors or hamstrings do!

Got it? Six-packs are bullshit. So what should you be doing instead of focusing on some ridiculous ideal that isn’t actually going to help your game? Try this!

Abs with a Block

You’ll need a yoga block, a thick book, or a rolled up towel. (To roll the towel, fold it in thirds lengthwise, and then roll up from one of the short ends. Secure it with a rubber band if you’d like.)

Lie on your back with the soles of your feet on the floor, place the block/book/towel in between your thighs, as close to your pelvis as you can get it. Seriously, don’t be afraid to get it right up in there against your pubic bone.

Bring your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers, like you’re getting ready to do a crunch. Don’t lift your head and hands off the floor yet, though! In fact, let your head rest in your hands so that your neck muscles are relaxed.

Flat Mat - Abs with a Block Prep

Inhale fully–without lifting your head and arms! Hold your breath and squeeze your block/towel. Press your mid and low back firmly agains the floor.

Exhale and lift both shoulder blades up off the floor. Pull your low belly–the spot right below your belly button–down.

Flat Mat: Abs with a Block

Inhale to lower halfway down, and repeat 5-10 times.

As you get stronger, you can work this with your knees bent and shins parallel to the floor. Make sure you can keep your lower back pressed against the floor even if you’re lifting your legs!

Flat Mat: Abs with a Block Right Angle

Or you might get a little more ambitious and do this with legs straight. Reach the balls of your feet toward the ceiling!

Flat Mat: Abs with a Block Legs Up

Note: if you’ve got a grouchy low back, stick to doing this with your feet on the floor. You could also try pressing your feet against a wall.

Flat Mat: Abs with a Block at Wall

No matter which one you choose, the steps are:

  1. Inhale.
  2. Hold your breath and: squeeze your block/book/towel, press lower back toward floor.
  3. Exhale and lift shoulder blades off the floor (if you can), pull low belly down.

As you start using your deep abdominals and inner thighs, you’ll find that your stability on the track will improve!

Perfect Your Plank

Every year at RollerCon, plank pops up in at least half of the classes I teach–and the rest are focused on stretching. If you’re doing plank correctly (read: safely), it’s a seriously awesome way to build strength throughout your whole body. And when you’re starting, even holding it for a couple of breaths is plenty to get you on the right track. And if plank feels pretty familiar, you might find that these tips make it harder again, like some of my RollerCon students did.

Why Do Plank?

If done properly, plank strengthens pretty much everything in your body. Seriously, everything: hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs, butt, legs. Plank means business.

When you set up your shoulders well in plank, it’ll prepare you for bracing on the track. Also, being able to hold plank with good form–and continue breathing in it–also means that you’re learning how to keep a stable core, which is critical for everything you do while skating.

Last but not least, a solid plank is going to help you banish some of that low back pain. Because who needs that?

How to Set Up Your Plank When You’re Getting Started

When you first learned plank, you were probably told that you need to keep your body in one long line from head to heels in order to get the benefits of the shape. The problem is, if your abdominal muscles aren’t ready to support this, you’re going to end up in poor form for your shoulders and probably with a grumpy low back. And if that’s happening, you aren’t actually going to build good patterns and strength that will help your game!

An alternative to better support your lower back is to keep your hips up at shoulder height.  This will help set you up to actually strengthen your shoulders and abs in a way that will help your game, and if you’re someone who gets low back pain in plank, you’ll probably feel that start to disappear.

Flat Mat Yoga demonstrates variations on plank to build your shoulder and core strength for roller derby.

Bonus: you can do this on your knees down, too! The lift of the butt will be a little less noticeable.

Flat Mat Yoga demonstrates variations on plank to build your shoulder and core strength for roller derby.

 

How to Set Up Your Plank When You’re Feeling Stronger

Once you’re feeling super solid and strong in the variation shown above, this way will help you get even more benefit from your plank.

Lie down on the floor on your belly. Position your feet so that the tips of your toes (rather than your toenails or the soles of your feet) rest on the floor behind you. Bring your hands down next to your low ribs, so that your elbows are almost-but-not-quite stacked above your wrists.

Draw your belly button toward your spine. Press into your hands to push yourself up to plank on your knees, with the tips of your toes still on the floor.

Flat Mat Yoga demonstrates variations on plank to build your shoulder and core strength for roller derby.

From there, you can stay on your knees, or you can straighten your legs. As you straighten your legs, your toes will tuck and you’ll set yourself up for a great foot position, with your heels stacked above the balls of your feet.

Flat Mat Yoga demonstrates variations on plank to build your shoulder and core strength for roller derby.

You can also see in the two images above that the position of my spine doesn’t change when I lift my knees. If yours does, there is no shame in working plank on your knees until you build up strength. It’s better than the alternative of screwing up your low back!

What to Watch For

  • The same way you wouldn’t stand only on the heels of your feet (how weird would that feel?), don’t just drop your weight into the heels of your hands. Use all ten fingers–especially your index fingers and thumbs and the space between them–and the entirety of your palms. Similarly, in forearm plank, don’t let the weight rest only in your elbows–use your hands as well!
  • Stack your shoulders above your wrist creases as best you can. This sets you up with your hands shoulder-distance apart, and you won’t have your hands too far forward (harder on your shoulders) or too far back (increases strain on your wrists).
  • Press back through your heels as if you were pushing into a wall. In fact, try setting up with your feet against a wall to really feel that action.
  • Lift your inner thighs away from the floor.
  • Push the floor away from you so that your shoulder blades spread away from each other and the middle of your upper back lifts toward the ceiling. If your shoulder blades are squeezing toward each other, you’ll be much less stable. This form will help create stability for bracing!
  • Look at the floor several inches in front of your hands, not at the wall front of you, not down at your hands, not back at your feet.

Plank Alternatives

  • Keep your knees on the floor.
  • Do plank on your forearms rather than your hands. Forearms should be shoulder distance apart (hug your upper arms with opposite hands to find that distance), and hands can either be flat on the floor or with fingers interlaced. The latter will be a little easier on your shoulders. If you’re doing forearm plank with palms on the floor, try squeezing a yoga block in between your elbows for better shoulder activation!
  • Do plank on your forearms with your knees down, too.
  • Try plank at the wall, as I demonstrate in this old-school Flat Mat video:

  • Pick up one foot and the opposite hand while holding plank–and keep your hips level as you do that!Flat Mat Yoga demonstrates variations on plank to build your shoulder and core strength for roller derby.
  • And of course, you can practice bird-dog to build toward the plank in the above photo!

Flat Mat Yoga demonstrates variations on plank to build your shoulder and core strength for roller derby.

 – – – – –

Want to build better form off the track to be in less pain and be able to play even harder? Get more tips like this–plus sequences to strengthen, stretch, and build balance–in Flat Mat Minimum Skills, the yoga for roller derby basics program.

Min Skills promo quote 4


Get streaming videos only!
Get streaming and downloads!

Say hi!