(Another) World’s Greatest Stretch: “The Leopard”

Pavel Macek, Flexible Steel Instructor Specialist, Master StrongFirst Instructor

Secret exercise of Tibetan monks for health and longevity – Snow Leopard!
‘Leopard’ is a special stretching sequence, practiced by Tibetan monks after long seated meditation practice and/or demanding climbing and hiking in the Himalayas, that allowed them to keep their body flexible and supple until very old age.
Like actually…so, listen up! 

Did you notice that people simply love “exercise with a story”?
Eugene Sandow’s body tempering, Hackenschmidt’s squat, Tommy Kono’s deadlift, Chinese breathing exercises, and even Hindu pushups. The story of Leopard is a bit different, but just a little bit.

I have two cats, Mimoush and Adus. We love and care for them as members of our family, of course. Our love is repaid by their generous teaching because we can learn so much from our cats, such as that there is not much that you actually need to have a happy life. Basically just food, shelter, and love.

Cats value their space and private time and not only sleep (an activity that takes up a significant amount of their days). ‘Rest’ does not apply to the early morning hours (like 3:30 AM) though; that is the time when the exercise starts. Stomping on the heads of the sleeping innocent, sprints back and forth, depth jumps from the wardrobe, throws and drops (phone, laptop, cups… ), dodging thrown objects, “catch me if you can” and so on.

Cats like to meditate, too! They sit on the window and watch the street, but very often they just sit and… well, just sit. After every sitting meditation or sleep, they stretch – forward, backward, one leg, other leg, done.

And here comes the Leopard:
You have certainly heard the stories of Asian martial arts, how a future Grandmaster watched a fight between a turtle and a sloth, and then developed a new style, right? Well, ‘Mimoush Stretch’ is certainly intriguing name, but many of you unfortunately haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her and Adus is a bit fat, more like bear, than a cat. So, “Leopard” it is. Although not a ‘Snow’ one, and not from Tibet. Sorry. Got’ya!

Secondly; it is a bit more complex that just the few seconds cat’s stretch. As you already figured out, I didn’t learn it from Tibetan monks, or even by observing my cats – it is (another!) variation of the so called “World’s Greatest Stretch”, originally developed by Mark Verstegen. Yes, there are many, many different variations, but this one is my favorite minimalist stretching sequence.

It combines a few different drills from Pavel Tsatsouline, Flexible Steel’s
founder Jon Engum, Brett Jones, and many others. One exercise flows into another and together they form a nice anti-chair sequence of various stretches.

Some info on the sequence: As Flexible Steel students know, “stretching” is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t want to “stretch” much, you want to relax and subsequently get stronger in your newly found, ROM. We have many power stretching tools in Flexible Steel that will allow you to do so – and yes, you can use some of them in the Leopard sequence.

How to perform “The Leopard”
• Watch the video
• Get into the position
• Spend 10 breaths or so there.
• Perform 1-3 sequences per session.

30 days Leopard Challenge
• Practice Daily.
• Do it every day, for 30 days without a break
• If it works, continue.
Photo credit: Twitter @rikunow