Yoga and skiing - Tim and Sharon Phillis of Yoga Tonic share their top tips for staying fit and preventing injury if you're skiing or snowboarding this winter
There are quite a few similarities between yoga and mountain sorts. Skiing can be one of the most rewarding and relaxing activities to do off the mat as it allows us to live in the present away from life's distractions, whilst also being active in the open air... and to enjoy the breath-taking beauty of the mountains.
Yoga is a great way to prepare for a ski holiday, to help you limber up and to stay fit and well when you're out on the mountains.
Sun Salutations are a great place to start. Sun Salutation B (Surya Namaskar B) is a particularly good way to warm the whole body up before skiing as it specifically includes Chair pose (see below) to engage glutes, and also introduces a full range of movement throughout the body. Increasing the heart rate and raising the flow of blood around the body will help loosen the muscles, thereby stimulating a greater range of movement before getting on the slopes.
Developing a stronger core, leg and upper body strength will help people get more out of their time in the mountains.
Movement (Asana): With regular yoga practice, students develop greater sense of proprioception (feeling of self-movement and body position). Enhanced proprioception will help skiers to become more aware of their posture when on the slopes, changing balance with body position whilst adapting to the environment around them.
Focus (Drishti): Maintaining a steady gaze or mental focus. It is important when skiing as the gazing spot is focused downhill in the direction of travel.
Breathing (Pranayama): A regular and consistent breath will help skiers and snowboarders centre themselves and feel calmer on the slopes.
Here are six yoga postures that will help get you ski ready this winter.
Chair pose (Utkatasana)
Pose strengthens quads, glutes and calves. Plenty of variations including adding pulses or balancing on one leg, moving weight forwards and backwards or side to side or adding spinal twists to engage the core.
Extended Side Angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Strengthens knees, ankles, legs along both abdominals, particularly in this pose where both hands are raised. Increases flexibility in the shoulders and the spine. Modification can be to place lower elbow on the knee whilst maintaining the open chest.
Boat pose (Navasana)
Pose develops core and hip flexor strength. A strong core will help ensure shoulders keep facing downhill, and help prevent 'swaying' when making a turn. For variety, legs can be raised, straightened or hands raised or moved from side to side.
Before (and post) skiing
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Arms and legs are strengthened as weight is distributed equally through palms and heels. Spine, shoulders, hamstrings and calf are stretched as the sitting bone rises high. Dynamic movement such as peddling the feet, moving the hips from side to side can help warm the body up. Including the pose as part the Sun Salutation B is an ideal, complete, body warm up before getting on the slopes. Helps increase blood circulation and calming the mind.
Opens the shoulders, upper back, thigh and ankles whilst introducing the sense of balance before getting on the slopes. Also enhances flexibility and strength. Pose can be done with both arms and legs at the same time or arms and legs only.
Wide Angled Seated pose (Upavistha Konasana A)
Stretching out the hamstring, hip flexors and back at the end of the day will help reduce any stiffness the next day. To assist the forward fold you can sit on a cushion or vary the width of your legs.
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