What do yoga and skiing have in common? The need for balance, flexibility and focus.
Yoga helps cultivate these qualities, so it follows that practicing yoga can help improve ski technique. Let's face it - we love skiing for its adrenaline rush. But the other side of this coin is the potential for injury. Think of yoga as insurance against injury and one of the best ways to improve your skills on the slopes. It does both by addressing your body's imbalances and fostering strength and flexibility. Yoga also encourages a focus on the breath. By being able to concentrate on your breathing, transitioning your movements with grace, and cultivating an awareness of body balance and alignment, any level of skier will get more out of their time on the mountain and be less injury-prone.
Welcome back to the second half of a six week series designed to keep your body ski-worthy so you can hit the mountain with confidence. These mini yoga-practices will target body parts that are critical to good form and technique, and when practiced together will stretch and strengthen these key areas in anticipation of the start of ski season.
SKI SEASON STRENGTHENERS: GET YOUR BALANCE WITH YOGA
Balance and alignment - both are indispensible for gliding down a mountain on two slippery sticks. Balance and alignment are also the cornerstones of a yoga practice. The way that you stand on your skis is going to affect how you get down the mountain; think about positioning yourself in as natural a stance as possible. This means feet hip width apart, knees soft, upper body and shoulders relaxed. The only thing that won’t feel natural is the position of the hips; they should be tipped forward slightly (ski boots help with this). If we lean back and the hips tip back, your feet are going to come out from under you. It’s a good idea to take a few moments to align yourself at the top of a run. From this alignment your balance will be kept in check, but if you also practice yoga balancing postures regularly, you will notice a big difference on your skis.
Try these yoga moves to improve your balance during ski season; aim for 3-4 times a week all winter.
Margaret Burns Vap is a yoga instructor/entrepreneur, and the founder of Big Sky Yoga Retreats, offering yoga and outdoor fitness getaways in Big Sky & Bozeman, Montana.
Visit bigskyyogaretreats.com for Winter 2009 yoga and skiing retreat dates.
Clothing provided by Athleta.