It’s that time of the year when recreational skiers and snowboarders start preparing for “the season” with a conditioning program. Leg Blasters, Lateral Hops and Front Squats come highly recommended along with other conditioning exercises. But, what about yoga? The web site Adventure Yoga offers a plethora of information about yoga for skiing and the Burton blog tailors its information specifically for snowboarders.
There is little equipment needed for a yoga workout, and, while I typically shy away from commenting about products, a company called Head Peace is something to consider. It was started by a Colorado stay at home mom who has an interesting story to tell and makes a product for women that is in tune with the essence of yoga. In fact, the head bands made by Head Peace can double as a gaiter for skiing or snowboarding. Lindsay Theken’s story is worth a read.
But, back to yoga. According to Adventure Yoga, “balance, concentration, flexibility, and strength are the most important skills to develop to get down the mountain, and yoga can help in all aspects of these. These skills come from doing the poses, by helping to lengthen muscles, like the glutes and quads, that are usually strengthened and shortened; and to also lengthen the opposing muscles, such as the hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back, that are normally tightened from overuse”.
The site emphasizes the importance of strengthening one’s legs. Otherwise, knee joint end up taking the strain, which can lead to serious injury.
Several specific poses are recommended and they are not dissimilar to more conventional exercise programs.
1. Forward bend: Yoga pose for hamstrings as it helps to loosen the back and stretch hamstrings and calves.
2. High Lunge: Stretches hip flexors and hamstrings on the back leg whilst strengthening feet, ankles, glutes and quads on the front leg.3. Chair pose: Classic ski pose, warms up, and builds strength in quads.4. Reclined cobblers pose: Improves flexibility of inner thigh muscles, which can cause knee injury in skiing if not stretched. 5. Forward kneeling lunge: Improves flexibility of hip flexors, which improves posture and lower back stability and improves calf flexibility which is beneficial to both sports.6. Spinal twist: Improves spine mobility, glute flexibility, and outer thigh muscles.7. Downward facing dog: Good for core stability. Going into plank and press up back into downward dog. Builds upper body strength.
8. Tree pose: This helps with balance, tones, and strengthens quads, calves, ankles, and spine whilst stretching hip flexors, inner thighs, chest, and shoulders. Improves balance and promotes mobility in the hip and knee joints, which is important when making turns.
Adventure Yoga explains how to execute each pose.
Burton Snowboards also has a plethora of information specifically targeting riders. The companiy’s blog features tips from snowboarder and yoga instructor Chloe Sillieres. She maintains that “yoga is a perfect fit with snowboarding, offering benefits from strength to recovery. On one hand, the physical aspects of yoga make you stronger, but also more flexible. On the other hand, the mental aspect of practice helps you remain more focused and calm. Yoga means “union,” so you can visualize this as a connection between you and your board”.
Issues with balance, such as getting off the chair lift or sliding across snow on only one foot, is especially prevalent in snowboarding. She maintains that poses like ardha chandrasana (half moon pose) or virabhadrasana 3 (warrior 3) that she maintains are perfect for us snowboarders to achieve better balan