Winter is my season. I’m a skier, and have defined myself as one for over two decades. You would think that given my passion for skiing I train for my season all year round.
Not so much.
The truth is: right about now is when I start to panic about getting in shape for the first day on the slopes. I’m not a gym person, so the idea of dedicated ski exercises like weighted leg lunges, burpees, or military squats is about as appealing as getting my teeth cleaned. Admittedly good for me, but not fun.
This year is different – I’ve been practicing yoga semi-regularly. In doing so, I’ve realized that there are many poses that address the strengthening and lengthening needs of skiers, without the unpleasantness I associate with the gym.
Below, in no particular order, are my favorites.
Chair pose (Utkatasana) – Chair is a pose made for skiers, since it mimics the bent knee and flexed ankle skier stance. Not only does it engage the quads, but it also works the lower back and core, all critical for skiing. Nerd alert: I sometimes hold imaginary ski poles in this pose instead of keeping my arms above my head.
Standing forward bend (Uttanasana) – The quadriceps often hog the pre-ski season training limelight, but a skier’s hamstrings are just as integral and deserve some love. Standing forward bend stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips, serving as a counterbalance to other more active poses.
Standing head to knee (Dandayamana-Janushirasana) – One legged balance poses serve as epiphanies for those like me who operate on the false premise that they don’t have a dominant side. In addition to helping build strength in the weaker leg, it’s a great pose for activating many of the stabilizer muscles in the legs. As a beginner, I appreciate the different options for this pose, since there are many days when just standing on one leg is enough of a challenge.
Vinyasa – While technically it’s not a single pose, it bears including. Skiers and snowboarders in the know understand it’s not just about leg strength. Vinyasas are ideal in that they engage your entire body. Whether you choose to cobra or upward dog, this series of poses is great for the core, upper body, and my favorite (sense a theme here?), hamstrings.
Lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana) – There are no shortage of hip opening poses in yoga. This happens to be my favorite. Not only does it open the groin, hip flexors, psoas, and hamstrings, it also activates the inner thigh muscles on the front leg, and opens the chest, shoulders, and neck. That’s a lot of bang for one pose.
I know that skiers are an opinionated lot, so if I missed your favorite pre-season pose, let me know.