Yoga for Skiers and Snowboarders

There is nothing better after a day on the slopes than coming home to a nice warm fire and a balancing yoga sequence. Whether you're a boarder, skier, or somewhere in between, your leg and core muscles get worked super hard on the mountain! I personally have experienced both lumbar spine and knee compression after a long and hard day on the mountain.

The following sequence of postures are some of my favorite poses to practice after snowboarding.

I typically take all my equipment off, leave my long underwear on, make a toasty fire, and unroll my mat for a Hatha practice created to unwind any tension from the slopes. 

Since boarding and skiing are fairly active, yang, activities, slowing the body back down through this sequence of longer holds will nourish you and be the cherry on top of your day gliding through winter-wonderland.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

The first pose I start with is Downward Facing Dog, or Ahdo Mukkha Svanasana. This is the perfect pose to release any back compression from the tailbone to the cervical spine.

  1. Start out on all fours, in Tabletop Pose, hands below the shoulders, knees below the hips.

  2. Bring the hands 6 inches forward and slightly diagonal from their starting position.

  3. Spread the fingers nice and wide. (The wider the fingers are, the less pressure there will be on the wrist joints as you press into the pose.)

  4. Tuck the toes under and lift the knees off the earth 6 inches. At this point, all of your weight is in your hands and the balls of your feet.

  5. From here, keep the knees fairly bent, and press the chest towards the thighs. You will be in the same pose as the picture above, but the knees will be nice and bent.

  6. Create a long line from the sacrum to the crown of the head, and relax the neck.

  7. You can begin to walk out the legs IF you are able to do it and maintain an elongated spine. If the lumbar spine begins to curve, keep the knees bent.

  8. Hold for 10-15 long, deep breaths. OR, if you'd rather not hold, there's the option to transition from Table Top to Downward Facing Dog 5-7 times. 

The point of this pose is to release the spine rather than to get the heels to the mat, so focus mostly on your back body being nice and elongated and not so much on having straight legs!

Knee Down Lunge

Knee Down Lunge

Knee Lifted Lunge

Knee Lifted Lunge

Twisting Knee Down Lunge, with Bind

Twisting Knee Down Lunge, with Bind

The next pose is a Lunge Pose, or Vanurasana. It's a great leg stretch! You can step the left foot into Lunge straight from Downward Facing Dog. There are 3 Variations of this pose I enjoy playing with - feel free to choose which one(s) feel right for your body today,

  1. VARIATION 1 : Step the left foot in between the hands. (The left knee is either directly over or slightly behind the left ankle to protect the knee joint.)
  2. Right leg stretches back, top of the foot and knee kiss the mat. (Bring a blanket below the knee if you're experiencing any pain at all.)
  3. Square the hips. This means both hip pointers (ASIS bones) are in line with one another.
  4. Allow the hips to melt down towards the earth.
  5. Elongate the spine. The cervical spine (neck) follows the line of the back and the gaze remains down and slightly forward.
  6. The hands either come to tents or can be places on blocks for more support.
  7. Hold 5-10 breaths.
  8. VARIATION 2 : Tuck the back toes under and lift the knee up off the mat. Press out through the back heel.
  9. The chest and gaze cannot lift into a slight backbend. 
  10. Hold 5-10 breaths.
  11. VARIATION 3 : The back knee comes back down to earth.
  12. Right hand plants firmly on the mat, about 6-10 inches sideways from the left foot.
  13. Left arm sweeps back, reaching towards the back leg.
  14. Bend the right leg at the knee and grab a hold of the outside edge of your foot with the left hand.
  15. Press the foot into the hand to accentuate the stretch of the right thigh.
  16. Inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale to twist.
  17. Hold 5-7 breaths.

Practice this pose on both sides, with a cleansing Downward Facing Dog for 3 breaths in between.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose

Firelog Pose

Firelog Pose

I love a good hip opener to release and relax my gluts and hip muscles. I usually opt for either Pigeon, Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana, or Firelog PoseAgnistambhasana. These poses stretch similar muscle groups and REALLY work the hips. Practice them gently.

  1. Pigeon Pose : Start out on all fours in table top.
  2. Draw the left knee up towards your chest and slide the shin bone towards the wrists.
  3. Keep your left foot flexed to protect the knee joint.
  4. Square the hips (both hip pointers in line) and lower the hips down. 
  5. Bring a cushion or folded blanket underneath the left hip to meet and support it where it is.
  6. Walk the hands forward and fold the upper body towards the left leg into a "sleeping pigeon pose".
  7. The top of all five toes of the back foot are equally connected to the mat. 
  8. Hold for 1-2 minutes and then switch sides.

 

  1. Firelog Pose : Start in Easy Pose, Sukkhasa, seated with the legs crossed in front of you.
  2. Bring the shins to parallel with the front edge of the mat.
  3. Flex both feet and bring the left ankle over the right thigh.
  4. Take a deep breath in and elongate the spine.
  5. As you exhale, fold forward leading with the heart. Use a bolster or pillow to rest the arms on.
  6. Hold for 1-2 minutes and then switch sides.

 

Deaf Man's Pose

Deaf Man's Pose

Plow Pose

Plow Pose

  1. Deaf Man's Pose: Start lying on your back with your knees in to you chest.
  2. Rock the knees over head and shimmy the upper arm bones underneath you.
  3. Interlace the fingers and press down with the upper arms.
  4.  Plow Pose: Begin to extend the legs outward.
  5. Keep a nice long cervical spine, and be sure not to look left or right.

And of course, as always, follow your yoga practice with a 10 minute Savasana. Giving yourself time for relaxation practice will feel AMAZING, and deeply restorative, after a day of skiing or snowboarding.