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Calf and Forearm Openers for AcroYoga, Climbing + More

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NASA rocket scientist/yoga teacher Scott Lewicki balances a highly technical day job with creativity on the mat. Use this innovative sequence to find new space in the often forgotten muscles of the calves and forearms.

Yoga, a complex ancient system of knowledge continually expanded upon and advanced, is often called a "science." But let's face it, it's not rocket science--or anything close. Still popular Los Angeles yoga teacher Scott Lewicki's NASA day job seems to somehow inform his smart sequencing and thorough integration of the body's mechanics and component parts.

A lifelong athlete with a scientific mind, Scott doesn't plan a sequence thinking about one or two muscles, but instead thinking of larger parts of the body working in conjunction with each other. Take the calves and forearms, for example. When did you last dedicate time to opening them? The following sequence looks like a calf-opening sequence, and it is. But after practicing it, you'll notice forward folds might feel more accessible through the ripple effect of opening not just the calves but also the hamstrings and hips and extending the spine.

The calf and forearm muscles are frequently used and frequently forgotten. This sequence is beneficial practiced in a number of ways:

  • On its own to counteract tightness from daily life
  • As an opening sequence for further asana practice
  • As preparation for L-basing in AcroYoga to strengthen and stretch the ankles and open the hips
  • As a warm-up for rock climbing, especially with the additional shoulder stretches

Calf- and Forearm-Opening Sequence

Calf Mashing

Vajrasana, Modification

The pressure of the blanket roll provides a deep tissue massage to the calf muscles, gastrocnemius and soleus. This can be referred to as "calf mashing." To try it, sit with shins on the floor and place a tightly-rolled blanket behind knees. Sit back toward heels.

Add a Shoulder Stretch

Lift right elbow and hold it with left hand providing a shoulder stretch. After 5 breaths, give the blanket roll a quarter turn toward the heels to apply pressure to a different part of the calf muscles. Stretch the other shoulder.

Plantar Stretch

Vajrasana, Modification

Remove blanket roll. Sit on heels while with toes, curling all of your toes under including the little toes. Lift both arms overhead. Interlace fingers and flip palms up to face the ceiling. After 5 breaths, change the interlace of the fingers and repeat the shoulder stretch.

About Scott Lewicki

Scott Lewicki, full-time NASA rocket scientist and part-time yoga teacher, completed a teacher training in the late 1990s at the Center for Yoga in Los Angeles (now YogaWorks). He's since studied with many senior teachers, and he became a Certified Anusara Teacher in 2004. His own style of yoga now borrows from all of these experiences, while incorporating a deep knowledge of anatomy, therapeutics, and yogic philosophy. Most recently Scott has added elements of AcroYoga and partner acrobatics to add fun as well as a different way to cross-train and prepare the body for other activities, like rock climbing and running. He teaches a weekly 2-hour-plus workshop style class at Yogamazé in LA and frequently plans pop-up yoga classes in parks.