Improved Athleticism Through Mobility
Twisting Chest Opener
In a recent conversation, a follower of our monthly workouts mentioned he has been doing yoga and it is helping him a lot. I know for some yoga can be intimidating so, while I always include some warm-down stretches to focus on each month, let’s spend this month developing a personal “mobility” routine. Why do I call it mobility? Because it helps to focus on our goal. The goal is not to prepare you for yoga or have you “get better at stretching”, it is to improve your ability to move. Increased mobility equals improved athleticism.
I am going to describe some poses first, then we will talk about putting them together.Our goal is to find a series of stretches that are pleasant and beneficial, and while you want to gently challenge yourself there’s no benefit from really pushing it. I will describe one side, but you’ll obviously want to complete both sides as you move through. Let’s start with the two most famous yoga poses, Upward and Downward Dog.
For Upward Dog, the easiest way to find the pose is to start laying down with your hands just below your shoulders. You will then raise your chest off the ground by activating your back, core and pushing with your hands. Look up at a gentle comfortable angle. The toes should be pointed, with the tops of the feet down. As you get more comfortable the hips and thighs may come up off the ground, so just the hands and feet are touching.
Half Pigeon & Wide Leg Twist
For Downward Dog you should place your hands on the ground in front of you just outside your shoulders, fingers spread wide and the index finger pointed forward. The feet should be on the ground behind you just wider than your hips. The goal is to create an upside down V-like like posture with strong straight arms pushing back with a tight core to raise your hips into the air and drive your heels into the ground. Find a distance between your hands and feet that is comfortable but challenging so that your heels are touching or close to touching. In the beginning your heels may be off the ground, but if you’re finding the position effective for your shoulders, back, gluteus, hamstrings and calves then that’s ok.
We will call our next pose the Twisting Chest Opener. Laying on your chest, place your right hand straight out to the side at a 90 degree angle, then slide it up so it is even with your forehead. You’re then going to twist yourself, keeping the arm in place, by lifting your chest and hips toward the right arm. The left arm can reach to try and clasp the right hand, and the knees bend and come up to give yourself leverage in the twist – as seen in our picture. If you can get both feet on the ground it will add stability to the pose. Do not force it. Take your time with this pose. It is a very deep stretch of the shoulder.
Next we will come to our back for Half-Pigeon. Place your left foot on the ground with your knee bent, and then place your right heel on your left knee. Flex the foot, so your toes come back towards your shin, to support your ankle. Then reach your right hand through your legs and clasp your hands behind your left knee. Now pull your left knee to your chest to stretch your hip and gluteus.
Another twist that adds in the hips and legs is the Wide Legged Twist. Step your feet comfortably wide, with both toes facing forward, and no discomfort in your ankles or legs. Fold forward to touch the ground, adjusting your feet if this is not possible. Explore this position, rocking back and forth as well as walk the hands over to each foot. Next, place your right hand in the middle between your feet and straighten your torso so it is parallel with the ground. Reach up with your left hand so you are creating a straight line with your arms, and look up at your left hand. When you switch sides don’t forget to walk your hands to each foot in between twists.
We are going to walk through the modifications for our next pose as Camel pose can be intense. Remember our goal. Start out standing on your knees with your toes on the ground. Place both hands on your hips and lean back while pushing your hips forward. Your head will naturally look up and drop back. Your hips should stay over or slightly in front of your knees. If this feels easy you can drop your hands from your hips to your heels. Be sure to engage your core and push the hips forward over the knees. The full pose has you drop your feet from your toes to the tops of your feet.
Lastly, as a warm down and warm up the Cross-legged Forward Fold is one of my favorites. Sit cross-legged on the floor. Fold forward working to eventually place your forehead on the ground with your hands out flat in front of you. Next place your forehead on your left knee, and then to your right knee. Come back up and switch your feet so the opposite leg is in front, then repeat the three positions.
In yoga breath is just as important as the movement. So each pose is timed by the number of breaths you take. It keeps you focused as well as releases positive chemicals within the brain and endocrine system. We will start with seven breaths at each of these poses or stages of a pose. I want you to move slowly, feeling calm. If a particular pose feels more necessary, then hold it longer.
Our sequence this month will be( fyi x3 = 3 sets):
- Cross-Legged Forward Fold, (Upward Dog, Downward Dog) x3
- Wide Legged Twist x2, (Upward Dog, Downward Dog) x3
- Twisting Chest Opener, Half Pigeon, (Upward Dog, Downward Dog) x3
- Wide Legged Twist, Camel,Upward Dog, Downward Dog, Wide Legged Twist, Camel(Upward Dog, Downward Dog) x3
- Twisting Chest Opener x2, Half Pigeon x2, Camel, (Upward Dog, Downward Dog) x3
- Camel, Cross-Legged Forward Fold.
Complete this sequence from 1 to 3 times several times a week. At first I wouldn’t recommend more than 3 days in a row, but after a few weeks you could perform it daily. Don’t push yourself too hard and you will see results in your golf game within a month.Your added mobility in your body just may lead to added distance 😉
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