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Ski Fit: Work your Balance, Flexibility and Focus Through Yoga

Use different versions of the Warrior Pose to work on your balance, flexibility, and focus to charge the slopes harder.

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What do yoga and skiing have in common? The need for balance, flexibility and focus.

Yoga helps cultivate these qualities, so it follows that practicing yoga can help improve ski technique. Let’s face it – we love skiing for its adrenaline rush. But the other side of this coin is the potential for injury. Think of yoga as insurance against injury and one of the best ways to improve your skills on the slopes. It does both by addressing your body’s imbalances and fostering strength and flexibility. Yoga also encourages a focus on the breath. By being able to concentrate on your breathing, transitioning your movements with grace, and cultivating an awareness of body balance and alignment, any level of skier will get more out of their time on the mountain and be less injury-prone.

Welcome to a six week series designed to get your body ski-worthy so you can hit the mountain with confidence. These mini yoga-practices will target body parts that are critical to good form and technique, and when practiced together will stretch and strengthen these key areas in anticipation of the start of ski season.

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Try these five yoga moves to stay strong and limber during ski season; aim for 3-4 times a week all winter.

WARRIOR I
Stand tall with your feet together. Step your right foot back about 4 feet, turning the back heel down. Square the hips forward by pulling your left hip back. The back leg is energized and straight while the front knee bends. Lift your arms overhead; keep the fingertips reaching high as your hips drop down. To challenge your balance, gaze up toward your hands. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

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Stand tall with your feet together. Step your right foot back about 4 feet, turning the back heel down. Bend your front knee to come into a lunge; your knee should be directly over your ankle. Take your arms out to the sides at shoulder height; reach the fingertips away from one another. Drop your shoulders down your back and gaze out over your front fingertips. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

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Stand tall with your feet together, arms by your sides. Step your right foot back and remain on the ball of the foot. Keep your left leg straight and strong as you lift the right leg; as the leg comes up, drop your torso down. Balance here for 5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

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Stand tall with your feet together. Step your right foot back about 4 feet, turning the back heel down. Bend the front knee slightly. Drop your right hand to the back of your thigh as you lift the left arm up and back. Lean back and look up. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

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Come into a push-up position with your shoulders lining up directly over your wrists. Keep your right leg straight as you bring the left leg under you and out to the side, with the foot flexed and the leg as straight as possible. Allow your right hip to drop down until you feel the stretch. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

Margaret Burns Vap is a yoga instructor/entrepreneur, and the founder of Big Sky Yoga Retreats, offering yoga and outdoor fitness getaways in Big Sky & Bozeman, Montana.

Visit bigskyyogaretreats.com for Winter 2009 yoga and skiing retreat dates.

Clothing provided by Athleta