Downward Dog: From standing, fold forward to allow your hands to reach the ground, bend your knees and step them back one at a time, then raise your sit bones to the ceiling. Your body weight should be evenly distributed in your hands and feet with your shoulders away from your ears. Pedal your feet and work to get your heels to the ground. Try coming to your toes, bending your knees, and bringing your sit bones even higher to the ceiling, and then lower your heels to the ground again. Stay here until you feel your calves become a little more comfortable in this position.
Low Lunge: This move can be used by itself, or in sequence with the Achilles Stretch and Hurdler. I recommend by doing the full sequence, to get the full affect. From downward dog, start by kicking your right leg back behind you and swinging it forward and plant it between your hands, knee above your ankle. Stay on the ball of your left foot for balance. Bring your right arm inside alongside your right leg to keep your knee from splaying outward. Stay here for 3 breaths, then keep your left hand planted and twist to raise your right hand to the ceiling while turning your gaze up at it. This should give you a nice side stretch, and you should also feel it in your right hip flexors. Bring your right hand down and continue with the achilles stretch, or bring your hand down to the mat, lift your hips, put your right foot to meet your left. Come back to downward dog and repeat this move on the left side.
Achilles Stretch: This is a great move to incorporate into your low lunge- I love this one!! Start in your low lunge and let’s use the bent right leg first. You can come down on your left knee and bring the top of left foot to the mat. With the help of your hands planted on the mat, slide your right forward backward a couple inches. Come forward again over your hands, and now your toes you should be on the mat but your heel lifted. If your heel hasn’t lifted, scoot your right foot back a little further. You should actively try to reach the heel to the mat (without being able to), and feel this stretch in your achilles tendon. Hold this pose until you feel like you got a good stretch. Move your foot back to the low lunge position and continue the sequence with the hurdler pose, or to get out of this position, lift your hips and bring your right foot back to meet the left and then repeat on the left side.
Hurdler: This is great move to incorporate into your low lunge as well, as it stretches out those tight calves and hamstrings. From your low lunge with bent right knee, drop your left knee and top of foot to the mat. Bring your hips back keeping them high with your hands planted alongside yourself for balance. Come back until your right toes come off the mat and flex that foot to really feel the stretch. Round your back over your right leg, but focus on keeping your hips square to the front of the mat. Keep your hips high, or rest your sit bones on your left heel. Hold this pose for 4 deep, long breaths. Come forward, plant your hands, lift your hips and bring your right foot back to meet the left food, and repeat on the other side.
Forward Leg Stretch: Start by sitting on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend and tuck your left knee in to place the bottom of your foot on the inside of your right thigh, and flex your right foot. Raise both hands up to the ceiling, then reach forward, forward, forward, THEN down to meet your toes, ankle, or shin. Reaching forward before reaching down is essential to keep your body in alignment to stretch your legs. If your back is hunching over too quickly, then you’ll mostly feel the stretch in your back. Hold this pose for a few slow, long breaths, then maybe reach a little deeper for a few more breaths. Switch legs and repeat.
Pretzel: In the forward leg stretch position, right leg straight with left leg bent and foot tucked in toward the thigh. Bend your right leg to plant your foot on the ground. Transition by grabbing your right leg into your arms, so that your foot is in the elbow crease of your left arm and your knee in your right elbow crease. Rock your leg like a baby to feel the massage on your right hip. Now, guide your right foot to plant it on the ground to the outside of your left hip. Hug your right knee to your chest, then take it further by adding a twist. Place your right hand on the ground behind your back and use your left elbow to your right knee to help deepen your twist. Hold for 3 slow deep breaths, unwind, shake out those legs and repeat on the other side.
Pyramid: Start from standing, and then step your left leg back to where your left foot is fully planted on the ground. Reach your hands over your head, and bending at the waist, fold over your right leg reaching toward the ground, ankle, or shin. Do not lock out your knees, but keep them slightly bent so your muscles are still active in this pose. Take a few breathes here. Then shift both of your feet 45* counter-clock wise, and heel toe them out until your hands are able to reach the ground. Shift your weight from one leg to another by bending one knee then the other. Bend into each leg about 3 times each, then rotate your feet back to the front of the mat, and step your left foot to meet the right and come to standing. Repeat these moves on the other side.
Chair Pose: This is an amazing pose for strength and balance. From standing, feel your feet planted firmly on the ground hips distance or feet together with weight distributed evenly on each foot from toes to heels. Lift your hands the ceiling, bend your knees, lower your seat and pretend as if you were sitting in a chair slightly bent forward. You may bring your palms to touch in front of your chest in prayer pose. Focus on tucking your pelvis under to protect your lower back and to keep your upper back straight. The longer you hold this pose the more you will feel your glutes lighting up. Try shifting your weight to your heels and lifting your toes off the mat. Hold the pose for about 4 breathes, and then come back to standing. Raise your hands to the ceiling again and repeat this pose. Test your balance now by coming to your toes for 4 breaths. Come back to standing and shake out those hard working legs.
Standing Half Pigeon & Variations: This is also a great move for strength, flexibility and balance depending on what variation you choose. From chair pose, with hands in prayer position in front of your chest. Shift your weight to your right foot, and when your ready raise your left foot off the ground, and guide your left foot over your bent right knee. Find a spot in front of you to keep focused and balanced. Bend a little deeper to feel this stretch in your left hip and hamstrings. For strength, stay in this pose. For flexibility, consider straightening your right leg and dropping your hands to the ground or blocks. Hold this pose for 4 breaths, lower your left leg back to the ground. Shake out your legs, then repeat to bend and stretch your right leg.
Tree Pose: This is a simple balancing pose, but I love it. It can be useful to narrow in that focus we all need in Disc Golf, and helps strengthen our legs and ankles. From standing, shift your weight to your right leg, and when your ready lift your left foot as a kick stand along your right ankle, or bringing your sole to your right calve, or up to your inner right thigh (NOT YOUR KNEE), focusing on keeping your knee out to the side. If you’ve got your sole on your calve or thigh, offset that one sided pressure focus on pushing that right leg against the sole. Once you are in a good position, keep your eyes locked on a target in front of you and maybe raise your hands above your head like the branches of the tree. Hold this pose as long as you want to challenge yourself, and don’t worry if you fall out, just get back into it and try again. Now the final test.. Can you move your branches like their blowing in the wind without falling over or moving out of position? When you’re ready, plant your left foot back on the ground, and repeat this move on the other side. (If you’d like to try the balance but just can’t seem to get it, try this pose with your back against a wall.)
Our legs are our foundation and the root of our strength as we walk through the world. Be positive, be patient and be persistent and it will pay off. Thank you for welcoming these moves into your routine today. Namaste.
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