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Yoga for Athletes

Kathryn Budig’s UFC–Inspired Shoulder Opener

UFC reminds Kathryn Budig of what else? Yoga. Her favorite shoulder opener bears a striking resemblance to Ronda Rousey's signature "straight armbar."

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UFC reminds Kathryn Budig of what else? Yoga. One of her favorite and most rewarding chest and shoulder openers bears a striking resemblance to Ronda Rousey’s signature “straight armbar” move.

I’m a yogi at heart—with a wandering eye. I’m a creature that craves change. My yoga practice is my constant, supplemented by other physical outlets that keep me stimulated. One of my favorite non-yoga activities is boxing and mixed martial arts. It’s a rhythmic dance of power, agility, cat-like awareness and pure adrenaline.

“I don’t want little girls to have the same ambitions as me, but I want them to know that it’s okay to be ambitious. I don’t want them to say the same things that I do, but I want them to know it’s okay to say whatever is on their mind.” —Ronda Rousey

I’ve been following the women fighters in the UFC and just watched the world’s best female fighter defend her title. Ronda Rousey is renowned for her “straight armbar” move, that makes her opponents tap out within seconds (her last fight lasted a whopping 14). Her famous move humorously reminded me of one of my favorite yoga shoulder openers. It’s a contorted version of Prasarita Padottanasana in the upper body and a Bridge prep in the base. The pose is full of twists, turns, and ultimately doesn’t look all that appealing, but trust me—it’s one of the most rewarding chest openers in my repertoire. Let’s just hope Ronda won’t be assisting the pose anytime soon.

On a serious note, I deeply admire women going after their dreams and inspiring others to do the same. Kudos to Ronda and every woman out there pursuing their passions regardless of the many bumps in the road on the path to our goals.

Also see Kathryn Budig’s Pursuit of Happiness

“Straight Armbar” Shoulder Opener

Step 1

Lie on your belly with your arms wide, in line with your shoulders, and palms facing down.

Also try Kathryn Budig’s Anti-Slouch Yoga Strap Trick

Step 2

Keep your right arm where it is as you roll onto your right side. Place your left palm in front of your chest on the ground and press down to revolve your upper body open. If this feels like plenty just stay here and breathe!

Also see Kathryn Budig’s Tipsy Frog Psoas Stretch

Step 3

Bend your left knee and place the sole of your foot on the ground. If possible, do the same with your right foot so that both of your knees are facing the ceiling and your feet are roughly hip-width apart. Your lower body will resemble the prep for bridge pose. Extend your left arm up into the air and internally rotate it. Flip your right palm up to face the ceiling and flex both of your wrists so your fingers are pointing at each other.

Also see Kathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Flip the Grip

Kathryn Budig UFC-Inspired shoulder opener

Step 4

With your left arm, casually explore the area behind you in search of your right hand. You might want to work with a strap in the top hand to throw down to the base hand. You can gently walk the top one down. Remember you’ll still get a good stretch whether your hands touch or not.

TIP The base hand is higher than you think. Don’t get desperate! The more worked up you get, the tenser you become, making it harder to relax into the pose. Trust that your hand is back there, but more importantly, reach until you feel a good stretch without any strain.

About Kathryn Budig

Yoga teacher kathryn budig

Kathryn Budig is the yoga teacher behind AIM TRUE, a regular writer for Yoga Journal, and a presenter at Yoga Journal LIVE!Follow her on @YogaJournal #findyourinspiration), her website, and:

Twitter: @kathrynbudig
Instagram: @kathrynbudig
Facebook: @kathrynbudigyoga