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Being aware of our feet, she tells us, is a critical factor in balance. In Utthita Parsvakonasana Extended Side Angle Pose , we practice putting even pressure through the entire foot, observing how the slightest shift to one side can unbalance us. The skiing portion of the second day focuses on skate-style skiing. Skate skis are especially slippery. When you are moving across the snow's slick surface, the slightest muscular effort creates motion, which presents a new kind of balancing challenge.

To gain control of my movement, says my instructor, I have to master the art of "edging," or delicately shifting weight to the inner edge of my foot to grip into the snow, which will allow me to push off into a glide. As I slide around like a bumper car, I try to remember to spread my toes and keep my feet relaxed so that I can control how my weight shifts. Meanwhile, I'm fielding more instructions: Bend your knees, push off the back foot, shift weight to the front foot, bring one pole forward. Every time I try to do one thing the instructor tells us, I forget the others, tense up, and lose my balance.

Finally she notices my difficulty and gives me yet another instruction: "You—just stop thinking! I pry my gaze away from my feet, look straight ahead in the direction I want to go, and thrust myself forward into a glide. I plunge forward, and this time I start to get the momentum, the slight swaying, the powerful back-leg strokes pushing me forward.

I grin like a little kid, glancing at the teacher to make sure she sees me before my next slippery fall. And then it occurs to me: Balance is not something you achieve and hold on to. It's more ephemeral; it's a string of temporary successes, held momentarily, lost, and then discovered again. Skiing gives you a fleeting experience of balance with each shift of weight and each glide. But it's not permanent. When you lose it, you just have to have faith that you'll come back to it. I feel I've been treated to a glimpse of the synergies of yoga and skiing.

Hannah told me that her favorite yoga teacher reminds her to slow down and stay focused when she starts to rush through her Sun Salutations. Of all the benefits that her practice confers on her sport, she says, the most important one has come in the form of a mental shift: "Yoga has helped me slow down and concentrate on myself, and on having a good time out there. Mary Ellen echoes this sentiment: "When you're out there and you see the snow sparkling on the trees and hear the ravens calling, you think, 'I'm so lucky, so extraordinarily lucky, to be doing this.

That feeling is hard to come by. After dinner on the last night of the retreat, I make for the hot tub. I set my chin on the cold rock ledge of the tub and count a handful of lights in the houses in the valley below. The rest of my view consists of the snow-blanketed Mount Gardner. The full moon shines through the spreading branches of a pine tree on the slope before me.

A rumbling sound disturbs the quiet as the trail grooming machine starts up. To my ears, it's a sweet sound, promising freshly groomed trails to glide down in the morning. Snow sports like cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and downhill skiing allow you to descend, traverse and even fly! You're navigating a slippery surface that offers little resistance to slow you down, so you need a heightened sense of balance along with focused strength in your core, back, and legs.

This sequence focuses on honing your balance and strengthening the key muscle groups that you use in snow sports—the quadriceps, glutes, ankles, abdominals, and back. If you're a regular skier, doing these poses throughout the season will enhance your experience on the slopes. If you're new to snow sports, practicing this sequence regularly for several weeks before you intend to strap on your skis, board, or skates will help you build the strength you'll need.

And if you're going skiing today, moving through this sequence first will wake up the key muscle groups you'll be calling on.

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In downhill turns, the weight is distributed slightly forward over the arches of the feet at the start of the turn and slowly shifts to the back of the arch as you finish the turn. This variation of Utkatasana imitates that movement. The slightly crouched posture, powerful core, and strong legs of Utkatasana are what allow you to make these subtle weight shifts. From Tadasana Mountain Pose , with your feet hip-width apart, raise your arms in front of you to the height of your shoulders, parallel to the floor, palms facing inward.

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Bend your knees and lower your torso as if to sit in a chair. Draw your navel back in the direction of the spine as you lower the sacrum and tailbone down toward the floor, tucking the tailbone under slightly. Reach forward through your fingertips and, at the same time, draw your shoulder blades toward each other and down your back.

Continue to lower until your thighs are as nearly parallel to the floor as you can get them. Lift your torso as you press into your heels. Rise up on the balls of your feet, lifting your heels 2 or 3 inches off the floor, or higher if you can. Hold for 30 seconds and then drop your heels, straighten your legs, and come out of the pose. Repeat 5 times and come back to Tadasana.

Downward Dog strengthens the ankles, core muscles both abdominal and back , upper back, shoulders, and arms, and stretches the calves, hamstrings, and buttocks—all of which work to stabilize you on the snow. Come onto all fours, with your shoulders over your wrists, your hips over your knees, and the knees 4 to 6 inches behind the hips.

Curl your toes under and, as you exhale, lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling. Keep your knees slightly bent and heels off the floor at first. Press the tops of your thighs back and, as you stretch the backs of your legs, press your heels down. Press firmly into the palms of your hands and all of your fingers, keeping your upper back wide and your shoulder blades drawing down your back toward your pelvis.

As you inhale, press into the palms of your hands and the balls of your feet. As you exhale, keep your core active as it supports you in the pose.

Half Term Family Ski Holiday

Feel the extension through the spine and side waist as your arms and legs are actively engaged in the stretch. Feel calmness as you breathe evenly in the pose. Remain in the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. When you ski, your balance constantly shifts as you move across the snow or ice.

Strengthen and Lengthen the Legs

In strength-building Warrior I , you practice the concentration required to maintain a balance between forward movement in the upper body and grounding down in the back leg, ankle, and foot. From Downward Dog, step your left foot forward and place it between your hands. Turn your right foot in 45 degrees and lower the heel.

Keeping a deep bend in your left knee, bring your torso upright, raising your arms overhead. Press down firmly with the back foot while squaring the front of your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. Inhale and reach through your arms, keeping your shoulder blades drawing down and back and your low belly moving in and up. Observe yourself maintaining the balance between the forward movement of your torso and the grounding action of your back heel and leg. Feel the opening of the chest and the stretch in the abdominals and left hip flexors.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, return to Downward Dog, and repeat on the other side. Return to Tadasana. This variation of Warrior III strengthens the feet and ankles, back, abdominals, adductors, and quadriceps. It stretches the glutes, hamstrings, and abductors. It also teaches balance. Entering this pose from Tadasana accentuates the muscle action used in Nordic skiing.

Press into the left foot, bending the knee slightly. Engage your quadriceps and slowly lean your torso forward, flexing at the hips. Slowly lift the right leg out behind you while reaching your arms forward, shoulder-distance apart and palms facing inward. Keep your weight centered over the arch of the left foot. Straighten out the right leg and press back evenly through the heel and ball of the foot.


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Straighten the left leg and balance with your back leg, arms, torso, and hips parallel to the floor. Engage your gluteus muscles and keep your hips level as you maintain length through the torso. Stay here for a few breaths. To further strengthen the core, legs, and ankles and to improve balance, try alternating between a straight and bent supporting leg. Exhale as you bend the knee, keeping your torso parallel to the floor. Inhale as you straighten the leg. Continue for 6 repetitions and then repeat on the other side. Come into Downward Dog for a few breaths and then come onto all fours.

This pose imitates the alternating arm and leg movements of cross-country skiing. It helps develop the strength and stability in the torso that you will need to maintain your balance while opposite limbs are in motion. It also strengthens the upper back, shoulders, abdomen, spinal extensors, and hamstrings. From your hands and knees, with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your hips over your knees, inhale and lift your left arm to shoulder level, reaching out through your fingertips, and lift your right leg parallel to the floor, reaching back through your toes.


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As you reach through your limbs, lengthen your spine, extending forward with the crown of the head and back through the tailbone. Keep your pelvis in neutral and your belly firm. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds, come back to all fours, and then repeat on the other side. Do the pose a total of 5 times, and then sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you in Dandasana Staff Pose. Core strength in both the front and back body is essential for maintaining stability on skis.

Navasana strengthens the abdomen, psoas, hip flexors, and spinal extensors while challenging you to balance evenly on three "points"—the two sitting bones and the tailbone. Rock back slightly to balance on your sitting bones and tailbone without rounding your back. Bend your knees, and lift your feet off the floor. Once you feel balanced, straighten your legs to a degree angle from the floor. If this isn't possible, remain with your knees bent, perhaps lifting the shins parallel to the floor. Lift your arms so they are parallel to the floor, palms facing each other. Alternatively, hold on to your legs behind the knees.

Lift from your sternum, engaging your core and maintaining length in your side waist. So, try shifting your weight into the heels and lifting your toes to ensure all of the leg muscles are getting in on the action, rather than making your quads do all the work. You can reach your arms overhead, and bring the palms together at heart center.

40 minute Beginner Yoga for Snowboarding and Skiing and General Well Being 1!

The first two Warrior Poses are just about as common as downward-facing dog in a typical yoga class, and for just as many reasons. These poses have a sneaky way of working almost every part of the body—just like skiing and snowboarding. Not only do Warrior I and II stretch and tone your thighs, calves, and ankles, but they also strengthen your shoulders, chest, and back, work the psoas deep-core muscles responsible for, among other things, maintaining good posture and stabilizing your spine , and help increase stamina.

To come into Warrior I, first settle into a high lunge by stepping your right leg back about three to four feet and bending into the left leg, so that the knee is over the ankle and your thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Hold Warrior I for five to 10 breaths, and then, transition into Warrior II on an exhale by rotating your torso to the right, opening your arms out to the sides and parallel to the floor, and resting your gaze wherever is most comfortable.

Traditionally, this is over the left fingertips. Stay in Warrior II for five to 10 breaths, and then, repeat both poses on the opposite side. Start in Downward-Facing Dog, lift your right leg, and shift your weight forward while hugging the right knee into the chest. Then, set the right leg down, resting the right knee behind the right wrist and the right ankle near the left wrist.

Repeat on the left side.

Benefits of Yoga for Skiing

To wrap up your post-ski or snowboard yoga session, spend some time in Half Boat Pose to strengthen your core, including the psoas, spine, and hip flexors, and to stretch out the hamstrings a little bit more. Start by coming into a seated position with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Engage the core, and lift your arms out in front of you. Hold for three to five breaths, release, and repeat one or two more times.

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