Yoga for Athletes

Twist and Squat

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We’ve looked at a dynamic warm-up routine that’s perfect for

practicing before your workout, when you need to activate the muscles, not

lengthen their fibers. After your training session, though, you can take

advantage of the warm and relatively loose state of your body to enjoy some

static stretching.

I favor a twist from squat as a quick, all-purpose stretch–and a

great opportunity to check in with the state of your body, mind, and breath

after your workout. It feels good whether you have just finished a long run or

a short pick-up game. As you squat, you release your calves, quadriceps,

hamstrings, hips, and back. Adding the twist works up your spine, and spreading

your arms wide opens your chest.

To take the pose, find a squat that works for you. Depending on your

body, you might like to take a wide stance (Malasana, or Garland Pose, as pictured here), with knees and toes angled out, or to pull your knees and

feet closer, in a tight squat. If your heels don’t reach the ground, that’s OK;

reach your hands to the ground to help balance. Stay for a few breaths, feeling

how the breath moves the belly toward the thighs and how it expands the upper


To add the twist, take your right hand to the ground near your right

foot, and start with your left hand on your left knee. Lengthen your spine and,

exhaling, twist to look over your left shoulder. If this feels good and your

balance is steady, reach your left arm long and gaze toward your left hand.

Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then unwind and repeat on the other side.

For a nice variation, find a fence post or a partner, and hold it or

them with your hands as you lean back into the squat. Then slide one arm to the

support as you twist in the opposite direction, and repeat to twist in the

other direction.

When you’re done, either sit or stand and see how you feel for a few

breaths. Yoga poses give us the opportunity to slow down and feel the body,

mind, and breath from the inside out. The more you’re in tune with what’s going

on with your system, the more ease you’ll find as an athlete and in your daily life.