Being surrounded by a vast expanse of snow, breathing in crisp, clear air and viewing vistas as far as the eye can see can bring a huge sense of relaxation, peace, calmness and serenity. And, even amongst the adrenaline-fuelled winter sports available, the mountains act as a sanctuary for the mind.
But have you ever considered packing your travel yoga mat when heading for the slopes?
Naturally, meditation and yoga are well-placed in the snowy peaks complimentary and beneficial to the more blood-pumping activity of skiing. Skiing requires speed, endurance and agility and whilst yoga operates at a much slower pace their common denominators are the cultivation of strength, flexibility and focus. There is a wonderful synergy between yoga and skiing and by packing your mat, integrated yoga practice in your pre and apres-ski regime will only help fend-off injury, increase balance, develop core and leg strength and boost focus in the mind. You can even take your practice onto the runs to achieve greater mindfulness and flexibility.
To further enhance my pre-ski warm ups and apres-ski warm downs I like to use massage balls in the morning of a ski day, or before my apres-ski glu-wein to aid recovery and keep my body hungry for more piste bashing. I sometimes even pop them in the snow to chill my sore muscles and take them in the sauna with me for a soothing massage at the end of a long day’s skiing.
So, if you’re heading out on the slopes this winter, armed with your yoga mat which yoga poses are best-suited to this cool high intensity sport?
Here at Plyopic, we suggest starting and ending your day’s piste bashing with the following asanas;
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
If you can position yourself in front of a beautifully snowy vista for this old favourite, even better. This one will make you smile on the inside.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
This pose builds strength in the abdominals, feet, legs and back, stretches the glutes and hamstrings whilst also accentuating balance.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Let Warrior II warm up the hips, legs and shoulders whilst opening your chest and lungs to that beautiful mountain air.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Arguably, skiing is one jumbo chair pose and so getting au-fait with this asana is hugely beneficial. It will warm up those quads and strengthen your ankles, leg and lower back muscles. You can add a twist to the right or left by placing your palms together in front of your chest - this will open up your chest and lower back.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Another fantastic pose to improve your sense of balance whilst strengthening the ankles and calves and stretching the quads, hips, shoulders and upper back.
To continue your workout whilst you’re out on the slopes;
Controlled breathing (Pranayama)
This can be practiced whilst descending a run, queuing at the gondola or whilst sitting on the chair lift. It’s a great way to increase your lung capacity and attention to breath which will keep that oxygen flowing and help focus your mind.
Half forward bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
A fantastic pose to employ whilst in that gondola queue or waiting for your friend at the bottom of the slopes. This will help stretch and lengthen your hamstrings, calves, and front torso whilst strengthening your back and improving your posture.
If you’re making your way to the snow this winter, breathe in that fresh mountain prana, focus your mind and improve your ski ability by adding a few yoga asanas to your skiing routine.
It’s time to take your practice to the peak.