Like yoga, skiing is an activity where focus and strength is essential. Both require complete concentration of mind and attention to the body, and what will make it perform with every swerve, bump and steepening of the slope.
However, unless you’re an Olympic contender, serious competitor, or someone who lives close to the mountains – preparing the muscles to endure long runs down a powdery hill is very challenging.
As a “low-lander” (spending most of my time near the shore) I find that high altitudes can create challenges with depleted oxygen flow through the body – making it a challenge to breathe calmly while walking around in ski boots or even up the stairs.
Despite my active lifestyle in the low lands, burning quads, sore shoulders, cramped neck and a stiff lower back are my normal apres ski experiences – which made getting my ski legs a bit more challenging. My solution? Yoga before, during, and after my daily runs down the mountain.
Apres’ Ski Yoga
Whether you’re a high or low-lander, the following asanas are good for a before or apres’ ski yoga practice to alleviate the wear and tear on the body from “shredding” the powder, and getting the blood, oxygen, and heat flowing back to the body.
1. Sun Salutation
Keep it slow and simple with long holds, moving with the breath.
Do high lunges if you want to strengthen the legs, and low lunges to open up the hips and the quads.
3. Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2)
Hold for at least 30 seconds or more to warm up the legs, hips, and shoulders.
4. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
If you really look at it, isn’t skiing just one big Chair pose down the mountain? So, yea, this is important. Try it with long holds, and add on a twist to the left and right with your palms together in front of your chest, or airplane arms (arms open towards the sky and the earth). Another option is to keep the feet hip distance apart, press the feet into the earth and isometrically pull the feet together then apart to wake up with abductor and adductor muscles of the legs.
5. Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose)
One of the best poses you can do for opening tight shoulders and hips.
6. Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Squeeze the elbows to open the shoulders and raise the arms, and squeeze the knees together to feel the maximum effects of the opening effects of this pose.
7. Supta Baddakonasana (Reclining Butterfly Pose)
A great restorative pose to open the hips and the lower back. You can use two folded blankets under the spine for support.
Yoga On The Slopes
While you’re on the slopes, you can still keep your yoga fundamentals in mind by using these techniques:
1. Pranayama, One-To-One Breath
Breathe in 2, out 2 (or 3, 4, etc.) By focusing your breath, you also focus your mind and help oxygen flow.
2. Uddiyana Bandha
Support your core and your spine by engaging the muscles of the belly. This will help keep your lower back strong.
3. Ardah Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend)
This is a great pose for relieving your back and legs. Use your poles with your arms fully extended, then fold halfway. Let the head hang and the neck relax. I promise you, this will come in real handy while waiting in the lift line.
There you have it, my suggestions for 10 great yoga poses to help prep you when you hit the slopes. If you do other poses that have worked well for your pre and post-skiing body, feel free to share in the comments below!