Yoga for Skiers

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Yoga for Skiers

Mike Doyle

Yoga has been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason: it's a fantastic way to boost your physical and mental wellness. Yoga also has particular benefits for skiers. By strengthening the leg, back and core muscles, while also increasing flexibility, a regular yoga practice can not only enhance your endurance on the slopes, but decrease your chance of injury.

Karen Dalury, founder of Killington Yoga, has taught skiing, coached ski racers, practiced yoga for 30 years, and has 10 years experience teaching various yoga disciplines. Here's what she has to say about how yoga can benefit skiers.

If you're ready to start practicing, you can begin with this collection of ten poses specifically targeted to help increase your skiing ability. Here's where to begin:

Mountain pose is an easy but effective inclusion in your practice. Mountain Pose is a good grounding posture, improving posture, balance, and strengthening your quadriceps.

Read More: Mountain Pose How-To

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Tree Pose

Mike Doyle

Tree pose is an excellent way to practice balance. Achieving a sense of dynamic balance is key in making steady and swift turns on all types of terrain. When you can ski with a balanced stance, your muscles don't have to work quite as hard, making it easier to ski harder terrain, for longer, without getting tired out.

Tree pose is also a good posture for strengthening your quadriceps, calves, and the twenty muscles in your feet, which all play a part in how your foot moves in your ski boot.

Read More: Tree Pose How-To

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Cat-Cow Pose

Mike Doyle

Cat-Cow is a staple pose in yoga, and is great for strengthening your spine and increasing its flexibility, while also toning your core muscles. When you initiate a turn, your core plays an important part in your stability, allowing you to stay centered over your skis, especially when you're skiing moguls or rugged terrain.

Cat-Cow also alleviates back pain, so if you've ever experienced a sore or stiff back by the end of your ski day, this is a good pose to include in your warm-up routine.

Read More: Cat-Cow How-To

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Reverse Triangle

Mike Doyle

Triangle, and Reverse Triangle, shown above, is a dynamic pose that works your entire body, strengthening your leg muscles, working your hamstrings, and opening up your upper body.

While everyone knows strong thighs means fierce turns, your hamstrings are responsible for your legs' flexion, so strong and supple hamstrings also play a part in the completion of your turns. Your hamstrings also protect your knees, especially when you're making tight turns or skiing moguls.

The pose also helps open up your chest and shoulders, which can become stiff and sore if you have the tendency to hunch forward in your turns, as many skiers do.

Read More: Triangle How-To

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Bird of Paradise

Mike Doyle

Bird of Paradise is a more advanced pose, but for yogis who have previous experience, it is an effective way to increase strength and balance at the same time. The pose works your calves and thighs, while also opening up your groin and hamstrings for increased flexibility.

Read More: Bird of Paradise How-To

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Warrior II

MIke Doyle

Warrior II is a basic yoga pose, but one that improves your concentration, increases your standing strength, and works your back and arm muscles. It's also a good pose for hip opening, a great inclusion in your practice, since your hips play a crucial role in pivoting your legs and allowing you to follow through with your turns.

Read More: Warrior II How-To

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Boat Pose

Mike Doyle

Boat pose is a difficult but effective way to tone your abdominal muscles. Your core is especially important in maintaining your balance and keeping you steady on the slopes, playing a crucial role in keeping your stance in alignment. A strong center will, in fact, keep you centered over your skis, preventing you from falling too far forward or from finding yourself in the backseat.

Read More: Boat Pose How-To

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Pigeon

Mike Doyle

Pigeon is a challenging yet powerful way to open up your hip flexors and stretch your spine. Increasing your hip flexibility will dramatically improve your skiing, widening your range of motion and increasing the suppleness of your hamstrings. Open hips also help reduce tension and stress in your back, a benefit further enhanced by this pose, which also opens up your back.

Read More: Pigeon Pose How-To

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Pigeon with Quad Stretch

Mike Doyle

After you've finished with Pigeon on both sides, you can lean back and turn the pose into a back bend and quadriceps stretch, also called One-Legged King Pigeon pose. Although it's important to be aware of your knee joint in this pose, it can be an extremely efficient way to ease tension in your quads after a day of skiing.

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Wheel Pose

Mike Doyle

Wheel is a dynamic pose for more advanced yogis. Not only does it strengthen your arms and legs, but it improves the flexibility of your entire spine and also stretches your shoulders, chest, and abdominal muscles.

Read More: Wheel Pose How-To