Skiing and snowboarding require a high level of stability, mobility and strength to stay in control. Endurance and stamina are also key components, as fatigue can make even the most advanced athletes lose proper form. You also need the ability to adapt quickly and efficiently when thrown off balance.
Sport yoga can help athletes in snow sports address weaknesses that will make it difficult to maintain a strong position during the unpredictable runs down a mountain. Do this yoga for snow sports during the preseason to condition and build strength, during your season to maintain mobility and in the offseason to stay in ski shape.
Here are the poses followed by instructions for the sequence.
Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, groin and psoas. Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back. Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves and ankles.
Stretches the hips, opens the groin and chest, and builds strength in the arches of the feet, ankles and knees. Warrior II also increases lung capacity
Warrior III strengthens the feet and ankles, back, abdominals, adductors and quadriceps. It stretches the glutes, hamstrings and abductors. It also teaches balance. Entering this pose accentuates the muscle action used in skiing.
Weight-shifting exercises help to identify center of gravity, improve coordination, strengthen the muscles in the lower extremities, and teach slower and more precise movements. This enhances your ability to absorb changes of direction quickly.
In downhill turns, you need a low center of gravity with your weight distributed slightly forward over the arches of your feet at the start of a turn and slowly shift to the back of your arches as you finish a turn. Replicate that movement by doing Chair. The slightly crouched posture, braced core and strong legs of are what allow you to make these subtle weight shifts.
Warrior II to Warrior I to Warrior III to Weight Shift to Chair Flow
Step back with your left leg into Warrior II. Align your right knee over your ankle with your thigh parallel to the floor. Open your back foot to a 90-degree angle. Engage your toes to balance on all four corners of your foot. Keep even pressure on the entire foot, observing how the slightest shift to one side of your foot can throw you off balance.
Open your hips and extend your right arm toward the front of the mat and your left arm toward the back of the mat with your palms facing down. Keep both arms parallel to the floor. Release your shoulders away from your ears. Reach through the fingertips of both hands, squeezing back and down. Turn your head to face the front of your mat and gaze forward over your right hand. Look down at your front foot. You should be able to see the toes of your foot on the inside of the knee.
Hold for 2 seconds and rotate your torso and hips to face the front and come into Warrior I. Bring your left hand down and toward the front to align with your right hand with palms facing each other at shoulder level. Now bring your arms up by your ears as you lift and lengthen to the ceiling. Look up and breathe out.
Lean your torso forward and lift your rear leg up as you swing your arms back to come into Warrior III. Shift your weight forward, bringing your torso and back leg parallel to the floor. Balance and hold, adding swinging arms to challenge even further.
Carefully return your left leg to the floor so your feet are hip-width apart. Now bend your hips and knees to lower into Chair Pose, keeping your shoulders, knees and heels in line vertically with each other.
Hold each pose for 2 seconds and repeat on each side up to 5 times. You can work up to 10 second holds for each pose as you progress.