Yoga for Derby Girls

by Clara Nipper


First published in Hit and Miss Magazine and Five on Five   

YOGA FOR DERBY GIRLS

            What is the perfect complementary companion to roller derby? If you said beer and cigarettes, skip this article. It’s yoga. Derby is pounding and slamming; yoga is lengthening and aligning. Derby is brute force and yoga is smooth balance. Yin and Yang.

            Anyone can be a yogini. You don’t have to be Buddhist, speak Sanskrit, chant, meditate or be vegetarian. If you do poses with reverence and that’s all you do; it is enough. It is yoga and you are a yogini.

            Some basics: Patanjali wrote The Yoga Sutra 2500 years ago. This text describes yoga as having eight limbs, but most of us become acquainted with yoga through limb number three: asanas or postures. There are many types of yoga asanas; the most common is Hatha. The word Ha means Sun and Tha means Moon and together, they are a harmonious union and balance. Hatha requires both surrender and effort.

            Within Hatha yoga, my favorite is Ashtanga vinyasa, which is vigorous and demanding and ideally suited for this vigorous and demanding derby girl. But you can shop around find a style that is perfect for you.

            To paraphrase Bryan Kest, one of the world’s top yogis, ‘yoga is not about being loose or strong; it is about letting go of tension. So you don’t have to be loose or strong to do yoga.’ Just show up. Yoga is like derby: you are never too old or too young; you are not too small or too big, too fat or too thin, too weak or too tight. Wherever you are, you are perfect to begin.

            Here is a different version on the classic sun salutation that I find rewarding. This is my variation, but you can play with the vinyasa and compose your own combination to suit your body’s tastes. Yoga poses are powerful; they can heal and the variety within a pose is nearly infinite. You can modify and adjust each asana to make it easier or more challenging, depending on where you are in life or just where you are that minute, that hour, that day. When doing your practice, relax, be gentle, accept yourself as you are in the present moment, do not force your body into anything, have compassion and breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe. You can breathe as hard as you need to but you should have calm, nose breathing through your entire practice. Any time your breath becomes ragged, uneven or out of your mouth, back off.

            Regular yoga will help your strength, endurance, flexibility and balance, all of which are vital in a strong derby player and it is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself. See you on the mat! Namaste and derbylove-Cat Owta Hell.

Tadasana                                                                                                                                                                 

Volcano Pose (overhead stretch)

Tree pose right leg                                                                          

Standing forward bend                                          

Extended standing forward bend                                    

Plank                                                                                     

One arm plank, right arm only                                          

Chaturanga                                                                         

Up Dog or Cobra                                                                 

Down Dog                                                                            

Lunge, right leg forward                                                    

Side Angle Pose to the right

Triangle to the right

Vira 1 to the right

Vira 2 to the right

Vira 3 to the right

Half Moon right hand down, left leg extended

Down Dog

Standing forward bend                                                                                                                  

Volcano Pose (overhead stretch)                                    

Tree pose left leg                                                    

Standing forward bend                                          

Extended standing forward bend                        

Plank                                                                                     

One arm plank, left arm only                     

Chaturanga                                                                         

Up Dog or Cobra                                                                 

Down Dog                                                                            

Lunge, left leg forward                   

Side Angle Pose to the left

Triangle to the left

Vira 1 to the left

Vira 2 to the left

Vira 3 to the left

Half Moon left hand down, right leg extended

Down Dog

Cat

Bow

Wide-angle forward bend

One-legged forward bend

Cobbler’s

Pigeon

Reclined leg stretch

Reclined twist

Plow

Happy baby

Savasana