Yoga for Derby Instructor Artie Choke-her

yoga for crossovers

Crossovers are a big deal at the start of derby. Who among us did not feeling like a stumbling giraffe as they attempted to cross one leg over another? While they are certainly something we perfect over the course of our derby careers, they can always continue to be improved. Whether you are Fresh Meat learning how to do crossovers before the 27 in 5 or a vet who wants to improve their balance and speed, this yoga sequence is for you!

Reclining Pigeon

Start on your back in Reclining Pigeon by drawing your right knee into your chest and then crossing your left ankle over the right knee to make a figure four. You can reach behind your right thigh or even to your shin if comfortable. Make sure your right foot is flexed, to protect your knee (we don’t any more stress to those derby knee injuries!) 

Take three deep breaths here. On your last exhale, take your hands behind your head and interlace them, then lift your head up by engaging your core. Inhale to lower back down. We will do five Pigeon Crunches to wake up the core. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Benefits: Reclining Pigeon is a gentle way to open the hips which gives us greater mobility for crossovers. Adding the core work helps us maintain our balance and a strong derby stance.

Warrior 2

We’re are all warriors. Why not express it through asana? Take a large stance on your mat, then turn your right toes to the front and your back foot to be perpendicular to your right. You could draw a line from the heel of your right foot to the arch of your left foot. The right knee should align over the right foot. In Warrior 2, take five breaths, focusing on your right hand in front of you. Channel your inner warrior. Repeat. 

Benefits: Warrior 2 is a power pose, but also a hip opener and leg strengthener.

Warrior 2

Chair Pose

From a standing position, take your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, drop your butt, and come into what should feel an awful lot like derby stance. Keep your core engaged here and see if you can tuck your pelvis. Take five breaths here. Then see if you can get lower. Add three more breaths. Once you’re done, take a break in a forward fold. 

Benefits: The chair helps build familiarity in your muscle groups by practicing your stance outside of practice.

Chair Pose

Garland Pose

Spread your feet to the outside edges of your mat and turn your toes facing out. Drop your butt to a low squat position. You may feel like you are sitting on a Squatty Potty. Don’t worry too much about it. You are now in Garland Pose. Take five breaths as you settle in, feeling free to shift a little side to side. Once you get comfortable, engage your core and take your arms up as if you are raising Simba over a cliff. Hold for another three breaths. 

Benefits: Increased mobility in the hips and the ability to get super duper low.

Garland Pose

One Foot Balance

Shift your weight to your right foot and ground down through all four corners of your foot. Slightly bend your right knee and practice taking your left foot off the ground. You can play with your balance slightly by wobbling side to side. I like to think of myself as a Weeble. Remember, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. See if you can lift that left foot a little higher until your knee is bent. Still balancing on that left leg, slowly move your left leg behind you and then deepen the bend in your right knee, still keeping your left leg elevated. This should look an awful lot like a crossover. Hold for three breaths. Release your left foot and shake it out. Repeat on the other side. 

Benefits: We are essentially imprinting the shape of the crossover here while working on balance, core strength, and ankle stability.

One Foot Balance

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  • Artichoke-her

    Artie has played, refed, and NSOed roller derby since 2012. She is a RYT 200 certified yoga instructor. She has taught yoga everywhere from a studio, a distillery, to a hostel in Panama. For her day job, she works for Google as a YouTube Support Specialist.

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