Yoga for rolling – Folding flat

Getting your nose or chin to touch the foredeck of your kayak should be a goal of anyone serious about developing a great Greenland kayak roll. It is not by chance, that the literal translations of many of the Greenland kayak rolls refer to being “at the masik”. In case you didn’t know, the masik is the deck beam that supports the front of the cockpit. Thus, being “at the masik” means being on the deck, forward. Whether you are starting a Standard Greenland roll low, or finishing a Storm roll forward, your ability to get close to the foredeck will affect the effort and grace of your rolls.

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Yoga for rolling – Strength

Despite my desire for rolling to be a purely relaxed, gentle and meditative practice, I cannot overlook that strength is needed if one’s rolls are to be successful. Repeatedly practicing rolls helps develop strength in the muscles needed to roll if the rolls succeed, otherwise, you run the risk of developing the muscles (and memories) needed to fail. By using yoga to develop strength, before trying to roll, you give yourself a better chance of success.  You start your rolling practice knowing you are physically capable. Then, the rolling becomes a mental activity, one in which we learn how to apply our strength and flexibility.

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Yoga for rolling – Torque your Torso

One of my favorite rolling practices afloat is to partially perform a roll and end in the balance brace position, where I hang out for a while stretching. The balance brace position is most effective when the shoulders are held in a horizontal plane with the chest facing the sky. Balance braces require not just torso rotation, they also require considerable bending backward. It can be a tough combination of motions on the spine.

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Yoga for Rolling – Waking up the Spine

It doesn’t matter if you are trying to perfect an advanced kayak roll like the Rock Roll, or getting your very first Standard Greenland Roll, we all need to be able to finish our layback rolls low. The higher you lift your body, the more power the roll needs to have, and power usually corresponds to speed and muscle strength, which eventually leads to overuse and injury.

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Yoga for Rolling

if you are like me, looking to improve your rolling, you may find the answer in yoga. Through my yoga practice I have become a more naturally fluid roller. My body moves, stretches and bends in ways that help facilitate safe, powerful and graceful rolling. Yoga is not just a physical practice or set of exercises, it is a holistic practice of mind, body and breath. By spending time now working on your whole being, before the (USA) season starts, I hope that your season of paddling and rolling will be enhanced, and you can progress safely through the process of developing as a roller and paddler.

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Rolling list

I tend to spend my winters building and rolling indoors. This year more building than rolling. However I had a brief moment to put together a rolling list to help me remember what to practice. Too many times I have been practicing and completely forgot to perform a particular roll, or remember what what rolls I need to work on. With this list printed our and then laminated and slide under my deck lines I can now practice to my hearts content.

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Qajaq Rolls is dedicated to passing on the traditional art of Greenland kayaking. Greenland kayak rolling can be a relaxing, yoga-like exercise. Rolling is also a tremendously valuable self-rescue technique, and should be the go-to recovery for any serious kayaker. Greenland kayak rolls are steeped in the history of the Inuit people, whose very survival depended upon their ability to roll up and recover while hunting. But Greenland kayaking encompasses much more than just rolling, qajaq building, paddle carving, throwing the harpoon and rope gymnastics are just some of the many skills that make up this ancient subsistence culture. If you are interested in learning more about all aspects of Greenland kayaking consider supporting Qajaq USA and Qaannat Katuffiat:

Qajaq USA is a nonprofit membership organization that is officially recognized by Qaannat Kattuffiat (The Greenland Kayaking Association). Qajaq USA is committed to supporting Qaannat Kattuffiat and their efforts to preserve, study and promote the traditions and techniques of Greenland kayaking while seeking to further the appreciation and development of Greenland-style kayaking in the United States.
Please consider joining Qajaq USA and supporting the organizations efforts.

If you are looking to prepare yourself your equipment and then learn your first roll please follow this link to a series of articles put together to help people get started: Getting your first roll. Nothing beats in person training, especially one-on-one training. If you are looking for mentoring check out the Qajaq USA Events where you can become immersed in the culture of traditional paddling.

Free Guidebook and DVD

Rolling with Sticks® started as a project to document the progress I was making as I learned the different Greenland style kayak rolls. This work evolved into the water proof guidebook and DVD. The project has paid for the costs of production so I decided to make them freely available for download in English, español – Spanish and 中文 – Chinese. Please download and share them with your paddling friends, and help to promote the art of Greenland rolling.