Alignment Snacks: A Balanced Approach to Hip StrengthKaty Bowman
Year Released: 2013
Categories: Athletic Stretch , Instructional / How To Videos , Special Health Conditions
Katy Bowman’s “Alignment Snacks” are short (20-30 minute) downloads which focus on body alignment. In each “snack,” Katy leads an unseen (but not necessarily unheard) class through an alignment session consisting of various stretches and/or gentle exercises. These movements are performed while Katy provides information on proper alignment. The snacks currently cost $5 each; you can find them on her website (katysays.com) under the “Move” tab.
This review is for A Balanced Approach to Hip Strength, a 28.5 minute alignment session designed to work on balance, strength, and flexibility. It focuses on hip strength and has some nice stretches for the shoulders and legs/feet. The class is all standing. I liked it!
The session begins with a review of squat technique, and then Katy leads the class through a series of one-legged squats (shallow, requiring more balance than strength — at least, for me). There are 2-3 minutes of these, then you move on to a shoulder stretch using a strap (combined with a squat, of course) for another 3 minutes. Then you do another round of the same balance and stretch moves, this time without the strap. At about the 11 minute mark, it’s more one-legged squats, then a figure four stretch for each leg, and top of the foot stretches. Very nice!
The rest of the session involves practicing forward bends to keep the movement in the hamstrings (some on one leg), calf stretches, top of the foot stretches, and more shoulder stretches. Katy gives nice alignment tips throughout.
Equipment used: 2 yoga blocks or a chair (for balance support), a half dome or block (for calf stretches), and a strap (for shoulder stretches)
What I liked / Things to Consider
The purpose of this session isn’t to work out. It’s to provide alignment information and then put it into practice through motion. So if you’re looking for pure stretch, you may be disappointed in the snacks. Then again, this one has a nice combination of strength, balance, and stretching work so it’s a good starting place if you’d like to try one out. (At the moment, Katy also offers a free snack on her website — Can’t Get Enough Shoulders— which you could try instead.)
I really liked this one. I’ve done both of the “balance” snacks (the other one is “Balance… Using Lateral Hips”) and, of the two, this one is my favorite. They are both useful, and I’m glad that I have them both. The main difference is that this one is centered more around movement (with alignment information given as illustration), while the other is more focused on alignment theory (illustrated by movement). I’m glad I started with the other one, though, because Katy uses the term “hip listing” here; that concept was explained extensively in the other class.
In addition to balance technique and theory, this one also had a nice explanation of why it’s important to stop your forward bend when you’re no longer using your hamstrings (if the last part of the bend comes from your spine, it weakens your discs over time and it doesn’t change the length of your hamstrings). Plus, the stretches here were super! There was a nice mix of shoulder, leg, and foot stretches, and they were all held for a long time. At the end, Katy says that she could feel the blood rushing through her body, and I felt the same way. Very nice!
The one negative that I’d point out is that the class is vocal in this one. There are groans and comments (“show off”), and in a couple of places you see one of the participants. I got the impression that some of the class was really not used to squatting! The comments can be a bit distracting. Overall, though, I thought it was ok. Unless you really dislike that kind of thing, I wouldn’t let it keep you from trying this particular class.
Katy is more relaxed in this one; she mentions other classes so I assume that it’s one of the later ones in the series. Her positioning cues are good.