Yoga and roller derby – they don’t seem very similar. One’s all “Ommmm” and the other’s all “Arrrgh!” One you can practice alone on the beach and the other you need at least 9 other people, gear, a track…you get the point. But there’s an appeal to that yin and yang relationship. And in fact yoga practice can benefit your derby play.
Yoga is known for improving flexibility, which can help with your skate form and overall range of motion, it helps prevent injury, and helps in your ability to bounce back from falls and hits. Those all sound pretty great to me! Additionally yoga practice asks that you pay close attention to your back and core muscles, which can assist with balance and strength when on skates. One final example of yoga’s benefit as a cross-training practice is the frog pose, which is dedicated to opening your hips – this can assist with your mohawks on the rink.
Tuesday Hula got into hot yoga 2 ½ years ago with hopes that it would relieve both her lower back pain and everyday stress. She explains the results:
“Not only did it re-emphasize all the good physical things that we *should* be doing day-to-day, like being mindful of our posture, not slouching, holding in our core, etc, but it also gave me greater self-awareness and a new ability to just ‘Let Things Go That Do Not Serve Me.’”
Hula has noticed changes in her derby play as a result of her yoga practice including how to regulate her breathing in order to prevent panting and improve endurance. Hula also notes how yoga practice can provide mental benefit: “From the meditative side of things, practicing yoga has given me greater clarity, clear-headedness and focus.”
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and kick some Asana! If you’re worried that you won’t know what to do (you’ll pick it up quick!) or you’re not flexible (you don’t have to be!) know that similar to roller derby, people who practice yoga vary in ages, identities, and levels of experience. There is a saying in yoga when practicing a move that one can take it to your “fullest expression,” which means that certain poses can be modified and/or advanced depending upon your preference or level of comfort.
There are many yoga class options in and around Buffalo so really you just have to narrow down your preferences– do you want to do hot yoga (Bikram)? Do you want your practice to be more calming and meditative (Hatha)? Or are you looking for a challenging workout (Vinyasa or Power)? Ask your friends for studio recommendations. Hula goes to Evolation Yoga which has several locations, including one around the corner from the rink (on Sweeney St. across from the Dockside Inn). I recommend Power Yoga Buffalo on Main Street in Snyder.
Research the websites of local studios to see their class offerings and schedules. Drop-in classes typically are around $15 for an hour or so class and some studios offer your first one for free. If you’d prefer to practice yoga in your home you can access online resources such as by streaming workouts or you can always rent or borrow a DVD. Home practice can be particularly appealing for skaters who want a restorative stretch after practice.
Now get to stretchin’