Winter this year has been strange all over the United States. From snow in Georgia to 65-degree weather in February right here in Denver it has yet to make up its mind other than it chooses to dump snow everywhere. That is fabulous for those of us who love the outdoors in the winter, in particular skiers and snowboarders. And while the mountains are fabulous and catapulting down a mountainside on slick sticks fastened to our boots is quite a rush, we need to be able to warm up and stretch afterward to both prevent injury and feel great post outing! Yoga poses can do just that!
If you’re new to yoga, make sure to check out my Five Foundational Yoga Poses post as I explain each pose as originating from those poses!
Crescent Lunge is a wonderful warm-up for skiing and snowboarding as it both stretches and engages your legs and core.
Start in Downward Facing Dog. Exhale and bring your right foot to your nose, then extend and place the foot between your hands, making sure your knee is stacked over your angle and makes a 90-degree angle with the floor. Inhale and sweep your arms and torso to the sky, extending tall through the fingers. Make a point to draw your whole body towards your midline, steadying yourself. If you feel comfortable you can sink lower into your lunge making sure that your knee remains at 90 degrees and your ribs remain pulled into your torso- no rib tips sticking out! Take 5 breaths here then place your hands on your mat, step back into plank, push up to Downward Dog and repeat on the opposite side.
Chair pose is a wonderful warm-up for your legs and hips as the pose uses many of the same muscle groups as you would on the mountain!
Start in Tasasana with your arms extended overhead and feet firmly grounded into the earth. Exhale and bend your knees, sitting back into your hips, aiming to bring the thighs parallel to the floor. Your knees will sit slightly forward of your ankles, but make sure you press your tailbone backwards and down towards the earth behind you. Engage your core, and with each exhale sink lower into the pose.
Eagle is another abdominal and hip intensive warm-up pose. Check out my Yoga Poses for Office Workers for a full explanation.
The balance intensive Tree pose is another great warm-up to improve stability on your skis or your board. Drawing into the midline and finding a steady Drishti (gaze) point are essential!
Begin in Tadasana, with both feet firmly planted into the earth and your arms either at heart center or by your sides. Shift your weight to your left foot and bend your right knee, bringing the heel of your foot to your ankle with your hip open in front of you. If you feel comfortable you can bring your foot to your calf or inner thigh. To maintain balance press your foot into your thigh and press your thigh into your foot, engaging your abs. Find a still point to focus on. Replace your foot on the ground and repeat on the opposite side.
After a day on the slopes we often feel tightness in our hips, especially around the hip creases, as in winter sports we spend quite a bit of time in a squat-like position. Bow pose is a great pose to counter that stiffness.
Begin with your stomach on your mat, with your arms beside you, palms facing the sky. Bend your knees and reach back to catch your feet or ankles. Press your feet into your hands while lifting your thighs off of the ground. Make sure to keep your legs hips distance apart while lifting. As you lift with your legs, your torso will begin to float off of your mat, allowing for a wonderful shoulder stretch. Breathe here then slowly release.
I love Upward Plank for its heart opening and shoulder stretching benefits. But the core workout you get from holding it is a fun extra bonus!
Start seated in Staff pose. Plant your hands, fingers facing towards the front of your mat, palms down, a few inches behind your hips. Bend your knees so that the soles of your feet are planted firmly on your mat and begin to send your hips to the sky. As your hips rise straighten your legs one at a time, replanting the soles of your feet. Continue to lift your hips, making sure not to clench your buttocks. Press your shoulder blades against your back, facilitating a chest opening and let your head hang in a comfortable position.
Have you been playing a lot in the snow outside? I would love to know what winter activities you participate in where you are- let me know in the comments below!
While I thought it would be fun to pose outside- these poses definitely can be done anywhere! Also, don’t forget to click on the yoga tab above and see my other great yoga posts!