Alignment Snacks: All Around the Thighs We Go!Katy Bowman
Year Released: 2013
Categories: Athletic Stretch , Instructional / How To Videos , Special Health Conditions
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I have only recently started trying a few of Katy Bowman's "Alignment Snacks" 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).
After trying several of Katy upper-body focused classes (which I loved--and you can try her "Can't Get Enough of Shoulders" free on her web site), I decided to try several for lower body, as I wanted to work in particular on my psoas and hamstrings. All Around the Thighs We Go is the first snack I have done that is mostly standing. You will need a mat a yoga block (Katy uses a half dome).
Katy begins standing with the feet wide. She shifts back and forth towards either hip, then repeats this movement leaning forward with the back straight. Next is a standing Figure 4 stretch. This is followed by a calf stretch with the ball of one foot on the block (or the half dome); she then repeats with the balls of both feet on the block. Katy then does a standing quad stretch (heel to buttocks) on either side. The next move is more challenging: holding the block in one hand, she repeats the standing quad stretch on the opposite side as she moves the block to the floor. (This is a bit like half-moon pose in yoga.) This is repeated several times, and then Katy returns to the hip shifts back-and-forth as a recovery move.
Katy then comes down to the knees for a runner's lunge. She performs several variations (switching sides each time), including adding a twist and twisting with the back knee off the floor. After relaxing briefly on the stomach, she has you come to the hands and knees, spread the knees wide, and push the hips back--this is a bit like child's pose, but you are keeping the hips elevated and mainly stretching the shoulders. There is a brief relaxation to finish this practice, which was 35 minutes long.
I liked this snack, although I didn't find that it had a lot of hamstring work. (I choose it because customer service on Katy's web site suggested that it would be one of the best snacks for hamstrings.) However, the lunges were nice to stretch the psoas, and it would probably make a great post-workout stretch for runners, bikers, and anyone else needing to stretch the legs.
Katy is rather goofy, but I like her! She's not above giving mini-lectures about alignment or other issues she feels strongly about, and she tends to go off on little tangents at times, but I don't mind this myself; she is VERY low-key.
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 All Around the Thighs We Go!, a 35 minute alignment session which works on aligning and stretching the thighs. This session is mostly standing, and it hits all four muscle “groups” of the thighs (the quads, lateral hips, hamstrings/glutes, and adductors). I thought the stretches were nice, so this is one of the snacks I’ll likely do again.
The class starts with hamstring stretches. You stand with the legs wide, shifting side to side, while Katy gives alignment tips, then do the same movements bending forward. After about 5 minutes, you switch to the lateral hips, doing a standing figure 4 stretch (on one leg, with the other ankle on the thigh) while squatting slightly and bending forward; Katy shows you how to modify by sitting in a chair. Next up are the quads. You do a standing quad stretch for each leg, then do the same thing tipping forward from the hips (sort of like dancer’s pose, but without the backbend). Don’t worry if you can’t do this last one — Katy says most of the class can’t either! Between the lateral hip and quad stretches, you stretch the calves. You do another complete round of all the stretches, then move to the floor.
In the final section, lasting approximately 11 minutes, you do a series of runner’s lunges (standard, with a twist, twisting with the back knee up) for the psoas. You finish with a minute or so of relaxation, lying prone, and a couple of minutes of child’s pose.
Katy gives provides good alignment information and positioning tips throughout.
Equipment used: a mat, a half dome, and some blocks or a chair (for balance; optional)
What I Liked / Things to Consider
The primary purpose of the alignment snacks is to provide alignment information and then put it into practice through motion. That said, I found this session to be very stretchy, so I think it could work as a stretching workout for the lower body. The stretches are held for a long time.
This class requires some balance and flexibility, but neither is strictly required in large quantities. Katy tells you to lean on something for the balance moves, and she provides some modifications for the flexibility ones.
You hear the class, but not as much as in other sessions.
Katy is relaxed in this one, and she makes a few jokes. Also, her positioning tips are nice and clear.