03 Dec Yoga for Skiers and Snowboarders : benefits and best poses
While skiing and yoga might seem like two completely different activities, they actually complement each other very well.
Skiing is a dynamic sport that requires a lot of strength and endurance. Yoga, on the other hand, is a great tool to improve one’s flexibility and effective breathing.
In this post, we’ll show you how skiing and yoga complement each other and a few poses that should definitely be part of a yoga routine for skiers.
The Benefits of Yoga for Skiing
Strengthen your core
Skiing is very demanding for the leg muscles and it is important to strengthen the core and upper body so as not to create an imbalance. Engaging your core muscles can also help you stabilise the spine when making bending and twisting motions and take some pressure off the knees, protecting the joint from injury. In addition, core strength improves balance and offers support in falls.
There are dozens of yoga poses that focus on the core but what might be even more interesting for skiers are the bandhas or locks, fundamental to hatha yoga. Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal lock) is the action of drawing the belly button in and up, while Mulha Bandha (root lock) consists in lifting the pelvic floor up. Engaging these bandhas during a yoga practice will help you strengthen your core and create stability.
Improve your balance
In all sports, balance is what allows us to put all our strength and cardiovascular fitness into coordinated action. But, more specifically, when skiing, balance is key in making steady and swift turns on all types of terrain. It is also very important to minimise the muscular involvement to remain upright while skiing.
By connecting to our base and stabiliser muscles, using the breath and gaze, and acknowledging our current capability, yoga is a great tool to improve balance.
Increase your flexibility
Tight muscles can limit the range of motion and cause injuries.
While skiing can overdelop quadriceps, tightening and shortening the hamstrings, yoga helps build flexibility in the leg muscles and hip joint, improving the support to the upper body and encouraging balance and good turning habits.
As a result, while practicing yoga as a complement to skiing, there should be a focus on stretching the quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thigh and outer thigh.
Boost your focus and attention
The physical aspect of yoga is very beneficial for skiers, but the meditative side is also important. Meditation has indeed the power to help you focus, improve your concentration and as a result, be more mindful of each move.
Practicing being the in the moment while skiing, letting go, connecting with the different parts of the body to make those turns… Mindful skiing will help you fully embrace the amazing experience of skiing, both physically and emotionally.
It’s perhaps the most important benefit of all. Skiing is a very demanding sport and yoga can help balancing those demands by strengthening the legs and back, while increasing flexibility and relaxing the mind.
5 Yoga Poses for Skiers and Winter Sports
1. Utkatasana – chair pose
This yoga pose is basically like sitting on an imaginary chair :
- Stand still, with your feet hip distance apart
- Stretch your arms forward with your palms facing each other
- Gently bend your knees, engage your legs and keep your spine lengthened
It’s great to tone the legs, strengthen the ankles and stretch the shoulders.
2. Phalakasana – plank pose
Great core workout, plank pose builds arm and abdominal strength. It also tones gluteus muscles and work the spinal muscles.
To perform plank pose :
- Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders
- Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands
- Tuck your toes and push yourself up
- Your body should make a straight line from your heels to the top of your head
- Look at the floor to keep your head in neutral position and breathe normally.
3. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana – Extended hand-to-big-toe pose
This is one of the best yoga poses to improve one’s sense of physical and mental balance. It stretches and strengthens the legs while calming the mind and improving focus.
To do extended hand-to-big-toe pose :
- Start standing tall with your toes spread
- Bring your left knee toward your belly
- Use your left hand to hold the outside of your left foot
- You can also hold a strap looped around the left sole if your hamstrings are toot tight
- Activate the standing leg and extend the left leg forward
- Breathe steadily and swing the leg out to the side
- Hold the pose, then swing the leg back to center to release and change leg
4. Anjaneyasana – low lunge
Low lunge is a very complete pose that stretches and strengthens the hips, quadriceps, and hamstrings. It also improves balance and focus.
To do this pose, you can start in downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) :
- Step your right foot forward between your hands
- Make sure that the right knee is stacked directly over the right ankle
- Lower down onto your left knee until you feel a nice stretch in the left hip and thigh
- Inhale, lift the chest away from the thigh, sweeping the arms up alongside your ears
- Look straight ahead or come into a gentle backbend with your gaze to your thumbs
- Hold and step back to downward facing fog to change side
5. Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclining bound angle pose
This restorative pose will help you relax the mind, body, and spirit after a busy day on the slopes. It stretches the groin and inner thigh muscles, opens the chest and stimulates the digestive organs.
To come into this pose :
- Exhale and lower your back torso toward the floor
- Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together
- Let the knees open wide apart
- Lay your arms on the floor, angled at about 45 degrees from the sides of your torso, palms up
- Hold for 4-8 breaths
Want to try a winter retreat that combines yoga and ski? Join our ski & yoga week in Andorra this winter!