Recent Events: Fueling Amazing with Athleta and Nutrition for Athletes with Off Road Cycling

The first official weekend of summer was jam-packed with fun. Not only was I at the studio (Yoga Heights) more than usual with my business partner getting some well-deserved R&R, but I had one MOARfit event each day to make it extra special.

First up – Fueling Amazing with Athleta Georgetown:

I had such an awesome group of yogis Saturday, June 21 for the Athleta Summer Solstice celebration down on The Labyrinth at Georgetown Waterfront Park.

Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta 2

More than 25 people braved the temperamental weather and didn’t let a few rain drops during our sun salutations dampen the fun. Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta

A great big THANK YOU to everyone that came out for the event and to Athleta for including me as their teacher for this powerful group!
Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta 3

Stay in the know on future FREE Athleta Georgetown events by following them on Twitter @Athleta_DC. And while you’re at it, follow me @MOARfit! #fuelingamazing

To cap off the weekend – Nutrition for Athletes at Off Road:

Nutrition for Athletes MOARfit Amy Rizzotto

A fit-fabulous group of 15 runners (and some cyclists) came out to Off Road Indoor Cycling Sunday, June 22 for my Nutrition for Athletes Workshop. We covered pre-, during and post-race nutrition, all the while sampling delicious granola from my girl Alicia at Greenheart Wellness and smoothies concocted by yours truly.

Greenheart Wellness

Keep checking the blog for a little fit-focused nutrition knowledge coming your way in July!

Take Me to Church – Yoga Church

Taking class at Urban Flow in San Francisco yesterday was like going to church. A really really sweaty church. Communal voices. Offerings of goodwill. Intentions of universal interconnectedness. Close to 100 bodies filled the massive Mission Street studio for the talented Stephanie Snyder‘s creative, challenging and playful 90 minute flow class.

Urban Flow

As a teacher, I was trying to pay attention to her sequencing, listen to how she delivered her cues, and learn from her gifts, while simultaneously allowing myself to get lost in the breath and the movement. The first 75 minutes or so flew by and by the time I found myself resting gratefully in half pigeon as Hozier’s powerful Take Me to Church filled the room with spirit and soul, I was melting into my mat–in the absolute best of ways.

Urban Flow Student

I’m so lucky that taking an hour and a half for myself to go to a yoga class, immerse myself in the experience, and try and draw lessons from different teachers can be considered professional development. It had been way too long since I last did this and it reminded me of a few very important things.

I may be a teacher with things to share but more so I’m a student with SO much to learn.

True I know some things, valuable things, but in many ways I know nothing at all.

That’s the best part about this path. It never ends. There’s always growth. It will never be boring, and if I ever think it so, I’ve stopped seeking lessons and closed off to change. Every day is different and all I, or anyone, can ask of themselves is to show up, be open, and welcome whatever comes our way–the good, the not so good, and the divinely sweaty.

Yoga for Athletes: 3 Hamstring Openers for Lower Back Relief

While getting into the preliminary training for my upcoming half marathon earlier this winter, I put together a three-part series of yoga poses intended to open tight hamstrings and their supporting muscle groups for Active Life DC. Tight hamstrings are the common culprit of lower back pain and frequently contribute to back injuries in yogis, runners and office warriors alike. Hamstrings are a finicky group of three muscles located on the backs of our thighs. Two of the muscles (semitendinosus and semimembranosus) stem from the sitz bones and connect along the inner side of the knee. The other one (biceps femoris) also originates at the sitz bones but connects along the outer side of the knee. When these muscles lose their elasticity they tend to lock the pelvis, removing the normal curve of the lumbar spine and flattening the lower back. This rigidity makes your back work extra hard to accomplish simple tasks like bending down to pick something up, let alone what I and most fitness fiends ask of our bodies on a daily basis. Without proper attention to caring for tight hamstrings you are bound to end up achy, or worse, injured.

Fret not! With daily stretching (like the yoga poses I provide in my monthly Yoga for Athletes series for Active Life DC) you can start to proactively compensate for rigidity, mend your hamstrings and ease lower back pain. Check out my favorite yoga poses for providing some much-needed TLC to your hamstrings below. All three poses are designed for all people of all abilities and all body types.Yoga for All!

No. 1: Modified Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose

 Modified Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose

  1. Stand with one leg extended onto a chair, straight but not locked out. Your heel should rest on the chair’s seat.
  2. Take a strap (or belt) and sling it around your lifted foot, holding onto either end with your hands.
  3. Square your hips to the front edge of the chair and bend forward until you feel a gentle stretch, adjusting your strap to the appropriate length. Hold and breathe into that initial feeling of tightness for 90 seconds to three minutes. With each inhale try to lengthen through both sides of the body. With each exhale slowly hinge forward millimeter by millimeter, tightening up on your strap as necessary. Ground down through your standing leg for stability.
  4. Once you’ve completed your long hold, relax and switch legs.

An important reminder—the key to safe hamstring stretching is to ease in, listen to your body for signs you might be pushing too far, and hold each pose for at least 90 seconds (and ideally a full three minutes.) Holding a pose for this amount of time allows your body’s connective tissues to open up and release.

No. 2: Supine Hand to Foot Pose

Reclining Extended Hand to Foot Pose

  1. Lying on your back, loop a strap (or belt) around your right foot and extend the sole of your foot toward the ceiling. If you know you have tight hamstrings you can bend your left knee, planting the left foot firmly on the ground and enabling the right leg to straighten out.
  2. Gradually pull the strap toward you until you feel a gentle stretch, adjusting it to the appropriate length by wrapping the loose ends around your hands.
  3. Hold and breathe into that initial feeling of tightness for 90 seconds to three minutes. Let comfort be your guide—this should feel good and if it doesn’t you’re likely pulling too hard or too fast. With each inhale try to ground down through your rest leg and length through the heel of your extended leg. With each exhale slowly pull your leg closer to your torso, little by little, cinching up on your strap as necessary. Make sure you stabilize both hips on the mat—perhaps even draping a heavy blanket across your belt line—to keep the stretch in your hamstrings.
  4. Once you’ve completed your long hold, relax and switch legs.

No. 3: Supine Bound Angle Pose

This third pose (also known as Reclining Butterfly) focuses on the supporting cast of tight hamstrings and an achy lower back: the adductor group. Adductors, or inner thigh muscles, and groin muscles are closely linked to stiff hamstrings. When big muscles like the hamstrings or quadriceps get overworked as they often do, adductors and abductors are left underdeveloped. This common imbalance can lead to injury. The muscles of your inner and outer thighs play a crucial role in stabilization and movement of the legs and pelvis. One of the key functions of adductors for athletes is that they pull your legs in toward the midline so that as you run your weight stays balanced on your planted foot and your gait doesn’t bow outward, which can lead to rolled ankles and stress on outer knee ligaments. Since they help keep you upright as you stride from left to right, they’re also key to getting maximal power out of each and every step. What athlete doesn’t want a little extra oomph wherever they can get it?

Amy Rizzotto_Reclining Butterfly

  1. Lie down on your back. Bend your knees bringing the soles of your feet together and allowing the knees to fall open to either side.
  2. Add a pillow under each knee or wrap a strap around your ankles as depicted to enable yourself to remain comfortable and feel supported in this pose as you hold for 90 seconds to three minutes. Your arms can rest by your side, or atop you hip bones if you’re using a strap. Be sure your elbows relax to the mat and you release any tension in your shoulders, neck and jaw.
  3. When you’re ready to let go of the pose draw your knees into your chest, give them a strong hug and take Happy Baby pose to neutralize the spine and feel some nice compression on your hip-flexors.

Head over to Active Life DC to view the full articles on therapeutic hamstring opener poses 1 (Modified Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose), 2 (Supine Hand to Foot Pose) and 3 (Supine Bound Angle Pose), or revisit my Daily Dozen Yoga Poses for Post-Athletic Recovery.

T-8 Weeks to Race Day

I am strong. I am healthy. I am fit. But I am NOT a runner. At least that’s what I’ve always told myself.

I’ve never really loved running in the way that I love yoga, Pilates, HIIT workouts, and hiking, etc. I have several fun flings with the sport, but they’ve never lasted more than a few months. So when a dear friend asked me this fall if I’d sign up for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with her pavement pounding group, what else could I say but YES!

Life is all about challenges. As a wise man once said, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. And to quote another really wise man, be the change you want to see in the world.

I often motivate myself using mantras about embracing challenge and change in my yoga practice, but with running I’ve always thrown up my white flag as soon as I start huffing and puffing. No more! I grabbed this bull by the horns back in October and I’m about to ride it all the way to the finish line in April. Thus far training has been a huge physical, mental and scheduling challenge, but I’m making progress. I’m very excited to see my stride, stamina and strength improve week over week.

This weekend’s long run (which I plan to knock out after teaching a couple of classes this morning) is sure to be a challenge with a hill or two thrown in, but I know I can do it. And hell, life’s too damn short not to try!

Half Marathon Training

Since I’m a beginner, I’ve been doing my homework and thought I’d share some of the best resources for running nutrition and race training I’ve come across. You can find moar of these resources on



Though I’m not following it to a T (or any letter of the alphabet for that matter), I wanted to share what I think is a great 16-week (3 1/2-4 month) training schedule for beginning runners courtesy of Before you use this baby, here are a few things the author wanted you to know (and I concur are all important and helpful notes!):

  • SS (Strength train and stretch): Do your own routine or take a yoga class
  • CT (Cross train): Do cardio other than running such as biking, swimming, or a cardio class
  • Rest: You don’t have to skip out on exercise entirely. Take a walk, do some stretches or use a foam roller your hardworking legs.
Week 1 2 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 30-min CT 2 miles or
30-min CT
Rest 2 miles Rest
Week 2 2 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 30-min CT 2 miles or
20-min CT
Rest 3 miles Rest
Week 3 3 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 2 miles or
20-min CT
Rest 3.5 miles Rest
Week 4 3 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 2 miles or
20-min CT
Rest 4 miles Rest
Week 5 3 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 2 miles or
20-min CT
Rest 4.5 miles Rest
Week 6 3.5 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 2 miles or
20-min CT
Rest 4.5 miles Rest
Week 7 3.5 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 2.5 miles or
25-min CT
Rest 5K race
(or 5 miles)
Week 8 4 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 2.5 miles or
25-min CT
Rest 5 miles Rest
Week 9 4 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 3 miles or
30-min CT
Rest 6 miles Rest
Week 10 4 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 3 miles or
30-min CT
Rest 10K race
(or 7 miles)
Week 11 5 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 3.5 miles or
35-min CT
Rest 8 miles Rest
Week 12 5 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 3.5 miles or
35-min CT
Rest 10 miles Rest
Week 13 5 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 4 miles or
40-min CT
Rest 11 miles Rest
Week 14 5 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 3 miles or
20-min CT
Rest 12 miles Rest
Week 15 4 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 60-min CT 3 miles or
30-min CT
Rest 8 miles Rest
Week 16 3 miles and
20-min SS
30-min SS 2 miles or
20-min CT
Rest Rest Race Day!
13.1 miles

According to this schedule, my Week 9 starts today so the 5.5 mile run I have planned is right on track–hopefully I can bust out 6-7 miles next weekend!

Are you training for a half marathon? If so, I’d love to hear about your training regimen and any tips or tricks you might have in the reply field below!

Fall Into What Scares You

Amy Flipped Dog in Florida

While laying on Florida’s Bicentennial Beach on the first Saturday in months where I’ve had literally nothing I had to do, I got an insatiable urge to move. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was writing out yoga sequences–something I love to do but rarely set aside the time for–or perhaps it was simply the setting. The beach definitely brings out my playful side. Somewhere between the memories it evokes from growing up a half mile from the ocean and the sound of kids giggling as they danced in and out of the waves not far from my towel, I got caught up in the fancy-free energy and had to play.

What better way for a yogi to play than by practicing yoga drop backs?

I hadn’t done a yoga drop back since the summer, before I injured my hamstrings and before my life became beautifully more complicated with the new adventure I’m on. At the time, what had always held me back from attempting this deep back bend was all fear–the fear of falling and getting hurt.

What good did that do me? How could I ever grow if I was too afraid to push my boundaries?

I’ve always been good at challenging myself mentally (e.g. in school and at work), stretching myself emotionally (like living abroad in different cultures and falling in love a time or two), but physically, well physical challenges have always stopped me in my tracks. For some reason, the the possibility of physical defeat has always been most daunting to my otherwise risk-embracing psyche.

Yoga has been a huge part of my openness to attempting new physical challenges–like training for my first half marathon–and to not only accepting but embracing this so-called “defeat.” Through falling (as I’ve now done countless times in crane, handstand, forearm stand and almost every balancing pose) I’ve learned my edges. It also shows me where my work is. That’s the fun of falling because you get to keep working to push that impermanent line of limitation farther and farther back. It takes dedicated effort and a lot of self-forgiveness to keep at it, but it is well worth it when you reach a new level and feel that ineffable sense of accomplishment.

On that sunny, carefree Saturday, as I sprang from my towel and without hesitation leaned back falling blindly to my hands, they were met with the receptive give of warm, soft sand. In that moment, I realized that I’m neither now nor ever that far from where I was the first time I faced this frightening transition from firmly grounded upright on two solid feet to topsy-turvy, upside-down. I still have the same healthy amount of fear critical to the resulting rush of achievement. I’ll always be scared of the fall. More important than having that fear though is not being paralyzed by it. By pushing through and just doing it–falling, failing, whatever it is that scares you–you realize just how capable you are and ultimately you’ll want to do it again and again, and again.

The ability to fall, be defeated or however else you personally define facing an uncertain outcome becomes a positive and transformational experience through repetition, perseverance and the joyful embrace of all that is possible.

Announcement: I’m opening a yoga studio!

Yoga Heights_Jess and Amy

Yoga Heights–aka my amazing business partner and friend Jess Pierno’s and my baby–will be the District’s newest yoga studio and wellness center. Our goal is to offer balanced wellness for every body, at every level and every budget.

We open our doors in less than two months (March 22, 2014) at 3506 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. YHDC (hastag that!) will offer a variety of different yoga classes–including power yoga, fusion yoga, prenatal yoga, and yin yoga–as well as yogalates, pilates, meditation, nutrition education and more. Jess and I are so excited to bring moar yoga to our new neighbors in the Columbia Heights, Petworth, Parkview and surrounding neighborhoods.

To ensure that wellness classes are affordable to everyone, YHDC will offer a unique “Karma Pass” that will subsidize the cost of classes for students who are unable to afford regularly priced offerings. Students may apply for the “Karma Pass Program” and receive up to three classes per week at a steeply discounted rate. Funds raised through a weekly donation class, as well as donations from other students who wish to support the Karma Pass Program will be matched by Yoga Heights to fund the program.

Stay in the know on opening events, pre-sales and special deals by visiting our new website–

Thanks for all the love and support!

Happy Humpday Headstands!

When coffee and tea just won’t do the trick, why not try a little headstand to re-energize you on humpday? Like all inversions, headstands improve circulation, help cleanse your lymphatic system for improved immunity and–my favorite–give you a boost thanks to all that revitalizing  reverse blood flow to the noggin. And if you really want to reap the core strength benefits of inverting give this variation [crow->tripod headstand->crow] a try….

[wpvideo RjXRNQE1]
#borderlineinappropriate #humpday #officeyoga

Get the MOARfit for iPhone App

In just 3 easy steps, download MOARfit to your home screen for one-click access to my advice on optimal nutrition, yoga, functional fitness, and overall mind/body wellness. Grab your iPhone and follow along with the directions below.

STEP 1: Go to in your browser (typically Safari for iPhones) and click on the arrow icon at the bottom center of your screen.

image (1)

STEP 2: Click on the “Add to Home Screen” icon with my Roaring Down Dog Lion logo.


STEP 3: Voilà! You now have MOARfit on your home screen for easy, one-click access to moves + meals + motivation.

image (2)

As always, thanks for getting your moves + meals + motivation with MOARfit!

Welcome to MOARfit!

Pages from MOAR_card-v11-2

Welcome to MOARfit!

Thank you so much to those of you who have followed along with me on MOARyoga over the last year. As with all things in life, the MOAR mission is dynamic and growing. What started as a blog dedicated to yoga and nutrition around this time last fall, has evolved and will continue to transform into more–well MOARfit to be exact.

This next phase is a reflection of my foray into a more inclusive definition of mind-body wellness. MOARfit came to me in late summer as I realized that I want to offer my students, clients, and readers advice and feasible steps to become functionally fit in their daily lives–both mentally and physically. For some people that might mean yoga three days a week and a vegan diet. For others, a fusion of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), outdoor activities like biking and running, and yoga combined with a flexitarian or compassionate carnivore diet might be the best path to the best you. Whatever course you choose to to follow, MOARfit will be a valuable resource for you along the way.

I have transferred all of my old content over from MOARyoga to this new platform–MOARfit–and hope you will join me in this new and exciting manifestation of my vision for helping people be the happiest, healthiest versions of themselves.

Sign up by clicking “Follow MOARfit” on the right sidebar and live life to the fullest by becoming functionally fit in both mind and body.

With gratitude and excitement for what’s to come!


Find Freedom with Backbends this Summer

Though it feels like spring here in DC, the summer is still upon us. Summer is the perfect time for backbending postures like full wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) which require warm muscles and an open mind. Backbends are intended to broaden and expand the chest and rib cage to enhance the body’s ability to perform breathwork (pranayama). Backbends can be exciting and empowering. They can also, however, be intimidating and scary. If backbends are not a freeing experience for you, your approach—both mentally and physically—may need some fine tuning.

Flipped Dog
Photo Credit: Leo Matsuo / Wardrobe Provide by Endless Summer Design

When performed correctly, backbends increase your range of motion. Many of us spend hours upon hours sitting—and let’s be honest, most of us don’t have the best posture when doing so. As a result, we lose a few degrees of the normal curve in our lumbar (lower) spine. That curve is part of our natural architecture as bipeds, distinctly purposed to provide us humans with the ability to carry our own body weight without damaging our joints and overall health. When we lose that gentle arch in the lower back we increase our likelihood of lower back, hip and knee pain because we aren’t properly stacked to handle our body’s mass as it moves through space.

Backbends help counter our daily damage by increasing extension and restoring that lumbar curve. They have also been linked to arthritis prevention, increased stamina and energy, depression relief, and  improved lung capacity, circulation and digestion. On a more emotional level, many practitioners believe that backbends help them let go of the past and focus on the present, and open their heart when fear has taken it hostage.

Whether you’re looking to improve your emotional or physical health—or both for that matter!—look no further than yoga backbends. From the milder baby cobra and sphinx poses to the more intense camel and king pigeon poses, there is a backbend for every level.

Check out my Favorite Eight:

  1. Sphinx Pose
  2. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  3. Bow (Dhanurasana)
  4. King Pigeon (Kapotasana)
  5. Camel (Ustrasana)
  6. Wild Thing (Camatkarasana )
  7. Full Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
  8. Dancer (Natarajasana)

If you fall into that “intimidated/scared” category when it comes to attempting backbends, here are a few helpful hints to do them the right way:

  • Warm up your body! A few Sun As and Bs should do the trick. The key is to move the body in ways that open the chest, hip flexors, quads and hips.
  • Focus on maintaining length in the front body. True, backbends increase extension in the lower back but people have a tendency to collapse in these poses, crunching the lumbar spine. To avoid back pain, focus on keeping a broad chest and long front body, and bending from the middle and upper back instead of hinging from your sacrum.
  • Don’t squeeze your booty. Squeezing the muscles of your rear end counteracts internal rotation of the hips which is essential in all backbends to avoid compression of the spine. When you activate your gluteus maximus, your hips externally rotate causing your knees to splay wide. To develop the muscle memory needed to encourage internal rotation of the hips, squeeze a block between your thighs when practicing full wheel, camel, and other belly-up backbends.
  • Breathe. Fear can be paralyzing in a backbend and the more you resist the more likely you are to tense the muscles that lead to compression and ultimately discomfort. When going into backbends, focus on your breath and allow your mind to calm down and enjoy all the goodness a backbend can bring.

Just a quick note of caution (safety first!): If you have any back issues, please consult with your yoga instructor and doctor before performing any backbends.