REI Yoga for Outdoor Athletes 2015 Tour Practice Notes

I had a fun first week of headlining the tour of REI stores, sponsored by my friends at prAna. The first leg of the tour hit Seattle, where I taught at the flagship store, at REI headquarters in Kent, and at stores in Redmond and Issaquah. Here are my practice notes on what we covered.

Claire at the Issaquah REI drew this sketch of Ranier for me. Remember mountain pose!
Claire at the Issaquah REI drew this sketch of Ranier for me. Remember mountain pose!

Warmup 1

This six-moves-of-the-spine routine preps your shoulders, spine, and hips for movement. It also makes a great stretch-break routine in the middle of your workday! Go through a few times, holding each pose for a breath or more, or simply moving on the half breath. You’ll find a version of this warmup in my Yoga Journal piece on yoga for winter sports.

  • Mountain pose
  • Inhale, lift arms
  • Exhale, side bend; repeat second side
  • Inhale, mountain pose
  • Exhale, circle arms behind you
  • Inhale, circle arms in front
  • Exhale, sit to chair pose
  • Inhale arms to shoulder height
  • Exhale to twist to one side—twist can be palm to opposite knee; woodchopping; or a prayer twist
  • Inhale through center
  • Exhale to twist to the other side
  • Inhale to center
  • Exhale, hands to thighs, spine rounding for standing cat
  • Inhale, lift tailbone and chin, back bending for standing cow
  • Exhale, standing cat
  • Inhale to mountain pose

Warmup 2: Parking Lot Yoga

Named for its portability, parking lot yoga requires no mat and serves as a dynamic warmup for your whole body. Complete a few rounds and you’ll be primed for running, cycling, climbing, or any other outdoor activity. There’s a free eight-minute video of the routine on my YogaVibes channel; you’ll also find it in my forthcoming guide to home practice, Everyday Yoga (preorder now!). Repeat several rounds on both sides.

  • Mountain pose
  • Inhale, lift leg to crane balance
  • Exhale, diagonal lunge
  • Inhale, crescent lunge
  • Exhale, warrior II
  • Inhale, crescent lunge
  • Exhale, diagonal lunge
  • Inhale, crane balance
  • Exhale, mountain pose

Yoga to Do During Your Activity

Yoga teaches us tools for focus (dharana) and presence (diyana). We reviewed these:

I spotted this fun tile at the Kirkland waterfront.
I spotted this fun tile at the Kirkland waterfront.

Form. Use just the effort you need to get the job done. This efficiency will improve your endurance. Remember mountain pose and find its alignment wherever possible: weight even, knees soft, pelvis level, core engaged, chest broad, neck long.

Breath. Use the right breath for what is happening in the moment. Keep your breath calm and regular to cue your nervous system that everything is under control.

Mantra. Focus your mind on repeating a few syllables—in, out works very nicely. (Read lots more on mantra in my guide to your personal best performance, Racing Wisely).

Drishti. Your body goes where your eyes are looking. Notice where your focus lands, and move in the direction you want to go.

Presence. We practiced being open to whatever happens moment to moment by playing with stepping to tree pose from warrior II (rock the weight into your back leg until you get some hang time) and from crescent lunge to eagle pose (wrap your back leg over your front leg, and wind your arms if you feel steady).

Yoga to Do After Your Activity

This minimal core routine strengthens the abs and back, while stretching the chest, glutes, hip flexors, and hamstrings. It appears in Everyday Yoga and in the Core and More episode of the Sage Yoga Training podcast.

  • Boat pose: hold a V sit for several breaths. Sweeter: hold the backs of your thighs and keep your feet low; spicier; extend your legs and arms.
  • Cross your legs and fold forward to stretch your back and hips.
  • Lift your knees, rest your feet on the floor and lean back into your hands as you lift and stretch your chest. Spicier: press into your feet and lift your hips for reverse table.
  • Boat pose with twist: inhale to center, exhale to twist to one side. Repeat several rounds.
  • Cross your legs with the opposite ankle in front and fold forward.
  • Listing boat pose: roll the weight onto one side. Spicier: inhale and sink the boat; exhale and pull back up. Switch sides.

Yoga to Do in Bed

Our finishing sequence works around the hips while twisting the spine and stretching the chest. Hold each of these poses to your heart’s content—fifteen to twenty-five breaths is a starting point. Named Reclining Twists, you’ll find this sequence in Everyday Yoga, in The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga, in the Reclining Twists episode of Sage Yoga Training, and in this short practice at YogaVibes (use code sagefreemonth to extend your free trial to a full month!).

  • Start on your back, knees bent. Cross your left ankle over your right knee, swing your right foot toward your left hip, and drop your knees to the right.
  • Lift your legs, take your right foot near your right hip, and drop your knees to the left.
  • Lift your legs, cinch your knees together, step your right foot toward your tail, bump your hips to the left, and drop your knees to the right. Switch sides from the start.
Don't forget to take several minutes of rest in savasana at the end of your practice.
Don’t forget to take several minutes of rest in savasana at the end of your practice.

More Tour Dates

The tour continues—please join me and my colleagues throughout March! Thanks for practicing with me.

Classes with Sage Rountree

Midwest/New York City Area

Classes with Steve Krojniewski

A certified Sage Yoga for Athletes teacher, Steve has assisted me in my teachers’ intensive, helped me cover last year’s tour, and works with Notre Dame athletes to achieve their personal best. He’s sure to give you lots of great tips! Visit his website.

Classes with Ingrid Yang

Ingrid is a wonderful yogi, a JD, a medical student, a beautiful Instagrammer, and author of Hatha Yoga AsanasVisit her website.

Classes with Rob Loud

Me and Rob at the Everyday Yoga photo shoot
Me and Rob at the Everyday Yoga photo shoot

Rob’s work has illustrated my writing for Yoga Journal, and he’s one of the models in my forthcoming Everyday Yoga (preorder now!). Visit his website.

Classes with Thierry Chiapello

Thierry is soon to finish the Carolina Yoga Teacher Training. He’s passionate about yoga for athletes and, as a former marine, understands the mindset athletes bring to yoga—and the ways yoga can help athletes prevent injury and recover from training.

Classes with Kim Helgans

Kim has a certification in Sage Yoga for Athletes, has been a longtime protégée of mine, and works with major collegiate programs. Visit her website.

Class with Lauren Reese

Lauren was a sweet addition to my Teaching Yoga to Athletes program at Kripalu in January. She’s co-owner of Breathe Yoga in Atlanta, Georgia.

Class with Alexandra DeSiato

Me and Alexandra, whom I lovingly call my understudy
Me and Alexandra, whom I lovingly call my understudy

Alexandra is my senior assistant—and, as a backpacker, a voracious REI customer. Visit her website.

Class with Kortni Campbell

Kortni is a graduate of the Carolina Yoga Teacher Training and both a great teacher and a strong but light-hearted athlete.

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