Alignment Snacks: Let's Do the TwistKaty Bowman
Year Released: 2013
Categories: Athletic Stretch , Instructional / How To Videos , Special Health Conditions
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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 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 or restorativeexercise.com) under the “Move” tab.
This review is for Let’s Do the Twist, a 29 minute alignment session which works on torso rotation. It also has some nice adductor and quad stretches as well, although these are not the focus of the session. This one is all done lying on the floor. Very nice!
The class starts with an exercise to show how to establish a neutral pelvis while keeping the ribs down (3 minutes). The rest of the class involves spinal rolls, twists, crescent stretches, an adductor stretch, and a quad/shoulder stretch. Some of these stretches provide good range of motion feedback and/or give an indication of your movement habits. Katy gives good alignment information throughout.
At the end of the session there is some “bonus” material. The first 30 seconds are Katy explaining that it’s ok to be sore after this one (which clarified something she said during the class — you shouldn’t get so sore you need Tylenol); this was filmed in black and white and had the feel of an outtake. There is also another 30 seconds of Katy showing her baby to the camera (in color). Random!
Equipment used: a mat, a half dome/block/pillow, and a strap (optional)
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. That said, I thought this one was fairly stretchy, so it could work as a stretch workout if you’re looking for one with a lot of twists.
I felt great at the end of this one. However, this was my second time through and I didn’t feel much after I’d done it the first time (several weeks ago). I think that’s because some of Katy’s cues were unclear to me; this was not helped by her dark clothing, which made it hard to see what she was doing.
The positives are that the stretches are held for a fairly long time, and some of them feel wonderful. Katy also gives good information about when the stretches are contraindicated, which can be important to someone who has spinal surgery or a hip replacement. This is one of the better snacks, in my opinion.
Katy is Katy. If you’ve done a lot of these, you’ll know what I mean. Her cues were sometimes unclear, but overall I thought she did a nice job. The class was quieter in this session — thankfully!
Katy Bowman's "Alignment Snacks" are downloads from her web site, restorativeexercise.com. These are 25-35 movement-focused classes offered for $5 each. Katy is teaching live in front of a live class (who you sometimes hear but never see). "Let's Do the Twist" is I think the fifth class that I have purchased after starting with several of her upper-body focused classes (which I loved--and you can try her "Can't Get Enough of Shoulders" free on her web site) and then moving on to a few of the lower body ones as well.
Let's Do the Twist is performed entirely on the floor. Katy has you begin lying on the back with a support under the head. (She uses her half-dome; a block or even a pillow will work fine as well.) The first move is to pull one knee in to the chest without lifting the opposite hamstring off the ground or rotating the pelvis forward. Katy says that this is a foundational move for twisting, but I also found it to be a good psoas stretch. She then repeats the knee in with a ROLL to the side--she emphasizes that you are ROLLING, not twisting, at this this point. Next, you lie flat on your back, arms overhead, and move your arms and legs to the same side for a "C" or crescent stretch performed to both sides. Following this stretch, Katy performs the first actual spinal twist, again bringing the knee in, but she does this a bit differently in that the ribs are kept on the floor.
At this point (about the 14 minute mark), she flips onto the stomach, extending one leg out at a right (90-degree) angle for a hip stretch and then repeating on the second side. Next, she bends one leg behind her, grasping the foot with the hand for a thigh and shoulder stretch (this is also known as half-frog in yoga). At 20 minutes, she returns to lying on the back, repeating the twist, keeping the ribs on the floor and twisting only from the pelvis and the waist. She then repeats the "C" crescent stretch to either side, and finally, she performs the twist a final time, still keeping the ribs down, but trying to see if a greater amount of twisting can be obtained in the pelvis. The routine concludes at about 29 minutes, although Katy comes back on screen briefly to say that it's okay to be sore, and then she comes back on screen once more with her baby.
I enjoyed that in addition to the twists, this snack worked a bit of psoas and hips as well. The stretches are a bit repetitive, but they felt very good; I think this one would be particularly nice to do after sitting all day or anytime my back is feeling stiff/sore. I would definitely recommend this!
If you haven't tried Katy yet, she can be quite goofy! She is a bit less so in this one, but at one point, when she is encouraging you to self-massage your ribs, she says something like "If you want to send me a dollar for the self-massage, that's fine." I can see why she might not click with everyone, but I like her.