This beach was also bizarre because the waves broke exactly like how they do in Malibu, California and it was called Playa Malibú. None of the other beaches I visited were breaking this way so it was like… a super accurate name.
First, learn how to do cat/cow in two different ways:
- Beginner: The first way is when the entire spine moves in sync, meaning the lower back, mid/upper back and neck all move synchronized with each other.
- Intermediate: The second way is to move one vertebrae at a time, but you start from the hips and move upwards and vice versa. (Best you just watch the video to get it.)
Why is it called cat/cow? Originally the names were Bitilasana and Marjayeasana in sanskrit yoga which translates to cat pose and cow pose. Some physical therapists call this cat/camel, but camel pose is very different, so I’m going to call it cat/cow because that’s how it goes in yoga.
Next, learn how to intensify cat/cow and use it in a yoga sequence or flow.
- For an extra stretch between your shoulder blades: Go into cat-pose and then walk your hands to your knees.
- For increasing core control: Perform cat/cow with your knees lifted off the floor by just an inch or two. (at 0:40)
- Fun facts:
- If your abs are very sore and you go into cat pose with the knees lifted, you will feel the soreness intensity because of how much it makes you use your core.
- However, if your abs are sore and you get into cow pose with the knees on the ground, you will feel the abs stretching.
- Fun facts:
- If you find it really hard to keep a flat upper back in downward dog: Go into cow pose (the one where you stick your butt out) with your knees lifted and then raise your hips and you will enter DD with a flatter back with the seat bones lifting up to the sky.
Last but not least, do cat/cow with the hands elevated to stretch your lat, shoulders and get better posture!
Got tight lats/shoulders? Want a straighter handstand? A nicer downward dog? Better posture? I did the following stretch nearly everyday for over a year before I stopped feeling its benefits. It feels so wonderful and scrumdillyumptious that it makes me happy to finally be able to share it!
It’s not a particularly “intense” stretch… it’s more like a dynamic stretch I do that helps me limber up and reset my flexibility super fast. You’ll definitely feel it. Try it and let me know how it goes! (And make sure you put your knees far back enough as I instruct!)
Hope you liked that!
For the past several weeks, I told myself that anytime my dog Medax does a stretch, I too will stretch. Sometimes I will mimic her: She often does downward dog (or more accurately, puppy dog pose). She does it quite actively, too.
Or she will lay on the back and extend her arms and legs away from each other. And I’ll do exactly that while standing and reaching my arms up as high up as I could while getting on my tippy-toes.
Or she will lay on her side and extend her limbs apart and essentially do a back-bend. (She’ll even try to accentuate it and go deeper into it by trying to grip the floor with her nails so she could bend her spine backwards even more. How scrumptious!)
I discovered very quickly that my dog stretches SO often that I often cannot even keep up with her! She will get up and stretch and I’ll still be sitting at my computer and realizing I need to get up and stretch with her! I ended up doing 8 downward dog stretches in a day if I mimic her. I eventually did it so often I started doing other stretches to take its place, like stretches that MY body specifically needed, like shoulder rolls in downward dog, anyone? (The beauty of being human is that we could do extremely complex things if we put our minds to it.)
This all started when someone said, “How come we need to warm up when a lion doesn’t before chasing down a gazelle?” And the reply was “Actually, animals are always stretching.” And now, I totally believe it! We are just so used to seeing them stretch and move with grace that we don’t probably don’t really notice it as anything unusual.
The “hip flexors” are the muscles near the front of the thighs and hips that help bring your knees UP toward your torso (and often tight from sitting). I made a video that teaches you how to perform the Perfect Lunge to Stretch them so you could get more hip extension! There are many intricacies that turn the lunge into a very effective stretch for the muscles at the front of the thighs and hips (such as the rectus femoris and the iliopsoas complex.)
After you are comfortable with that stretch, progress to part 2 below!
- For people who sit a lot and don’t stretch the hip flexors, they have often lost all hip extension and need to restore it. Stretching the hip flexors will help your hips have more hip extension (read: the ability to bring your thighs behind you without arching the lower back to compensate).
- Lunges are a commonly prescribed basic stretch if someone is having lower back pain, because the iliopsoas complex (deep hip flexor) connects the thighs to the lower back, and if they’re tight they pull on the lower back. Doing it in a low lunge is a very good start toward stretching them.
- The cues in the video (squaring, tucking, etc) are applicable to ALL hip flexor stretches, including high/standing lunges or the couch/wall quad stretch and so forth.
How this relates to bodyweight exercises
Excellent Reception on /r/fitness
I posted this on /r/fitness and it got 4600 upvotes going into the top 25 most upvoted things on that subreddit. That helped it get a lot of views: almost 30,000 in fact on YouTube (with 867 thumbs up and 9 thumbs down… who are you thumbs down people, anyway?)
Anyway, the strong popularity of this video was much to my surprise because I didn’t think such a video on the basics would be so impactful. Anyway, check it out if you want more information (or entertainment).
Let me know how you like it or if you have any questions!
Pike compression is the ability to bring your legs up (toward your face). Improving this quality is crucial for many bodyweight exercises and often a major weak point for many. It will help make the L-sit feel easier, help improve the V-sit and even provide the compression necessary for a pike press handstand.
In the following video, we do 3 sets of seated piked leg lift variations that helps strengthen your hip flexors with an interim pike stretch that helps stretch your hamstrings. This exercise doesn’t require any equipment whatsoever, so, while it may be hard, you have less excuses to not go through with it.
I like to dedicate a few minutes to stretching my hamstrings before I do these so they reduce the effect of putting the brakes on the whole operation. If you don’t have the range necessary to do the exercise in question because your flexibility is limiting you, then you need to stretch for it beforehand.
Why do my thigh muscles suffer the most during these leg lifts or during L-sit practice? Is it from a lack of flexibility or strength?
It’s often both. The quads/hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hip and thigh) have to work hard to keep the hips flexed (legs up)… and the calves have to point the toes… and if the hamstrings (opposite/antagonistic to the quads) are tight, they will essentially be stretched near their end range and essentially act like it’s putting the brakes on the whole operation making it even harder to lock the knees. Usually tightness and weakness go hand in hand. You may have strong hip flexors, but they’re probably not strong in that position where maximum hip flexion is required.
Now that you’ve strengthened the hip flexors… learn how to stretch them effectively with the perfect low lunge!