Bend Like a Pro With These 10 Athletic Yoga Poses


Lizzy Chiappy is no stranger to treating athletes. As Founder of South Miami's popular Casa Vinyasa, Chiappy calls the University of Miami Football, Women and Men's Track & field, Women's Tennis and Women's soccer team all clients, including several Sunday superstars. So how does she treat her most physically gifted clients? Chiappy kindly shared some insight into her athletic program - Yogalete - she takes her clients through.


Downward Facing Dog with Heel Raises

  • How: Press hands down into the floor at shoulders-width distance. Lift hips high up towards the ceiling. Separate feet to hips-width distance and press heels down towards the ground. Drop the crown of your head and take your gaze towards the back edge of your mat. Press your chest back towards your thighs. Lift heels up as high as you can, then press them down as low as you can. Repeat 5x.
  • What: Elongates and releases tension from your spine. Opens up the hips and shoulders. Stretches hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands. Strengthens arms, shoulders, wrists, ankles, and abdominals.
  • Why: The added heel raises in Downward Facing Dog works on ankle mobility, which football players need big time. This is a deeper stretch and warms up the calves, Achilles tendons, and feet.

Low Lunge with Psoas Stretch

  • How: From Downward Facing Dog, step one foot forward, in-between both hands. Place back knee on the floor and release back toes so that the top of your foot is on the mat. Reach both arms up towards the ceiling and press both hips forward. With one hand, grab onto opposite wrist of bent knee and pull arm to the side of the bent knee (i.e. If right foot is forward, grab left wrist with right hand and side bend stretch over to the right).
  • What: Stretches the quadriceps, hamstrings, groin, and hips. It encourages a full range of motion in the lower body.
  • Why: The added side bend stretch allows for a deeper opening into the Psoas muscle. Since it is the only muscle to attach the spine to the leg, tightness can lead to lower back pain.

Half Split

  • How: From Low Lunge, straighten out front leg in line with hipbone and flex foot. Back knee is stacked underneath hip. Fold forward towards the straight leg. Use opposite hand to pull toes back for a deeper calf and Achilles stretch.
  • What: Improves flexibility in the back of the legs, primarily in the hamstrings. This pose stretches the lower back and can relieve symptoms of Sciatica.
  • Why: Sometimes a Seated Forward Fold (a seated position with both legs stretched out in front) can irritate the low back. This pose is a great way to stretch the hamstrings without putting strain onto the low back. The added benefit of pulling the toes back allows for a deeper stretch in the calf, the Achilles, and the fascia in the bottom of the foot.

Modified Side Angle

  • How: From Low Lunge, turn back foot to point towards the same side as front leg. Rotate your body to face away from front leg. Place front hand down on the ground in front of front foot. Reach your top arm overhead with palm facing towards the ground. Peel your chest open towards the ceiling and gaze up. Lastly, shift weight forward towards your front leg.
  • What: Lengthens and stretches the side body. Opens and releases hips. Stretches the groins.
  • Why: This pose can help relieve low back pain while reducing the likelihood of a strained groin. During this stretch, mobility is created within the hips, which is greatly needed.

Malasana/ Deep Prayer Squat

  • How: From a standing position, spread feet out as wide as the mat. Turn both feet out. Bend your knees and squat your hips down. Place hands at heart center into a prayer position, and use your elbows on the inside of your knees/thighs to press your legs out. Pull the crown of your head up as you straighten your spine. Pull your lower belly in and up.
  • What: Stretches the groin, lower back, sacrum, and hips.
  • Why: Lower back pain is a common complaint of football players. This pose can help relieve lower back pain while increasing range of motion in the hips. It also can be a very calming pose, especially with all the pressure and stress that football players face. This pose is great in bringing a balance of energy within the athlete.

Tree Pose

  • How: From a standing position, place one foot on either the calf or the inner thigh of the standing leg. Stand tall as you bring your hands together at heart center into a prayer position or reach your hands up towards the ceiling. Press firmly through the four corners of both feet, and press the lifted knee back while keeping both hips square towards the front.
  • What: Stretches the thighs and groins. It builds strength in the ankles and calves. This pose helps to remedy flat feet and can be therapeutic for Sciatica. Lastly, it improves balance.
  • Why: This balancing pose tends to be the most accessible for most football players. It allows them to work on improving their balance while getting the added strengthening and stretching benefits. It is also a hip opener for them to work through.

Upward Facing Dog

  • How: From lying face down, place your hands on either side of your rib cage. Press through your hands and tops of your feet to lift upper body up into a back extension. Lift your knees and thighs off of the ground. Press your hips forward and roll your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • What: Stretches the chest, spine, hip flexors, shins, and front of the ankles. It also strengthens the wrists, arms, and shoulders. It can also help relieve symptoms of Sciatica.
  • Why: This pose is great for relieving back pain while continuing to open up the hip flexors and entire front side of the body. It also increases ankle mobility.

Half Pigeon

  • How: From Downward Facing Dog, bend and bring one knee forward towards the wrist of the same side. Bring your foot as close as possible to the opposite wrist. Your opposite leg is extended behind, with your knee facing down toward the ground. Point both hipbones forward. You can drop down to your forearms or drop your forehead to the ground and reach both arms forward.
  • What: Stretches the Piriformis muscle of the bent leg while increasing range of motion in the hip socket. It also stretches the Psoas and hip flexors of the straight leg.
  • Why: This is another great pose to help relieve tightness in the hips, which can translate to tightness in the lower back. It was once thought that this pose would be “too much” for the knees of a football player. Turns out football players love this pose and how it makes them feel. Stretching the glutes/hips leads to better health and functionality in the legs.

Half Pigeon Quad Stretch

  • How: Staying in Half Pigeon, rise up onto your hands. With the same arm as the straighten leg, reach back. Bend your knee and grab the inside of your foot. Pull your foot inward.
  • What: Stretches the Piriformis muscle of the front leg while also increasing the range of motion in the hip It also stretches the Psoas muscle, hip flexors, quadriceps, and knee of the back leg.
  • Why: To maintain good knee health, it is important to stretch the quadriceps, which in turn stretches the knee. With the way Half Pigeon is set up, football players get both a great hip flexor and quadriceps stretch.

Belly Breathing

  • How: Sit tall in a comfortable seat. Place both hands on the abdomen, where the rib cage is. Take a breath in, expanding your belly sideways. When breathing out, contract your belly in. Watch how your fingers get farther apart as you inhale and get closer together as you exhale.
  • What: It strengthens the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and the abdominal cavity. The diaphragm is considered part of the muscles that make up the core, making it very critical to develop.
  • Why: It is important because football players tend to take short breaths, breathing into their chest, which adds stress and anxiety during performance time. Poor breathing habits cause football players to fatigue faster. By focusing on healthy breathing patterns, athletes can increase their VO2 Max (maximal oxygen uptake). When all the muscles that make up the core are strong and healthy, the extremities can function at their optimum.

STAY FIT 305 is a local fitness news site dedicated to all things health and wellness in South Florida - where to train, who to train with, tips from the pros, healthy places to eat, events happening around town, and more.

Similar Posts

Similar posts