The best yoga poses for skiing fitness
Much like lifting weights, running and mountain biking, practicing yoga can help skiers achieve on-slope fitness. Leslie Ross, Meta Yoga Studios co-founder and former professional skier, took a moment to discuss the benefits of yoga for mountain enthusiasts.
Ross, a telemarking national champion in alpine freeskiing, moved to Breckenridge when she was 22 years old. In 1996, she founded Babes in the Backcountry to teach women about backcountry skiing and safety. Today, Ross continues her active lifestyle and educational role as a yoga instructor at Meta.
According to Ross, yoga benefits skiers by improving their balance and stability, boosting injury prevention through flexibility, increasing strength and stamina, and by upping the “pleasure factor” of skiing through refocused mindset.
The following poses illustrate the benefits of yoga and are easily achievable anywhere and by any level yogi. By holding each pose for a few breaths, skiers can expect to increase strength in leg and core muscles, improve balance and flexibility, and gain focus and body awareness. This attunement to body and mind, allows skiers to tap into inner energy, create warmth, and feel less stress in the holiday crowds and during the coldest days on the mountain. Skiing yogis are present, centered, and balanced.
Crescent Lunge is a pose that requires physical strength and mental focus. This pose builds muscular endurance by increasing strength in the arches of the feet, ankles, knees, and thighs – important when standing around in ski boots all day and charging mogul runs. Crescent Lunge stimulates the mind, building mental focus and willpower. Who doesn’t need a little more of that when standing at the top of Lake Chutes?
Like Crescent Lunge, Warrior II pose builds strength in the arches of the feet, ankles, and knees. This pose stretches the hips, opening the groin and chest. Warrior II also increases lung capacity, a great benefit to skiers in Breckenridge’s high altitude environment. To boost the “pleasure factor” on the hill, Warrior II centers yogis, building focus and will power.
Pigeon pose increases a yogi’s flexibility, which aids in injury prevention. It opens hip flexors, muscles often tight after a full day of skiing, while also stretching thighs and shoulders. Pigeon is also unique in that the pose increases circulation and re-energizes a worn out body. It is therapeutic for those with high blood pressure and alleviates stress. In the cold Rocky Mountain environment, skiers of every caliber will heed the benefits of Pigeon pose.
Ross suggests sitting for five minutes before and after practicing these poses, to focus on breath and center one’s self. She recommends beginning by holding each pose for ten breaths, eventually working up to one minute. Namaste!
– Jesse Ambrogi-Yanson