In all honesty, she looked completely out of place amidst the throngs of people strapping on their snowboards and clicking in their skis. Reaching her hands to the sky, local skier Melanie Storbeck delicately arched her back executing the perfect Warrior I pose as onlookers stopped to stare with quizzical expressions. Brushing the snow off her knees she jumped up and made her way to a group of skiers patiently waiting for her to finish her morning routine so they could finally navigate the growing chairlift line.
“They laugh at me because I call it ‘snowga’,” Storbeck said, but she will be the first to tell you that after two knee surgeries, the few minutes of stretching greatly improves her day on the hill.
On the surface it would seem the two sports are more different than they are alike. Skiing and snowboarding focus on speed and adrenaline, whereas yoga is slow and methodical. Although they differ in execution, yoga and snowsports are the perfect counterbalance to each other and doing one before or after the other can make a tremendous difference in how your body responds to the demands you place on it.
One of the biggest benefits yoga has in relation to skiing and snowboarding is injury prevention. Those who lap the mountain regularly call upon muscles in the lower body to do most of the major work, which can overdevelop some areas while weakening others.
It’s no surprise that knee injuries tend to be the most common in snowsports and many times it can be attributed to overdeveloped quadriceps and weak hamstrings that put pressure on the knee joints. Whether you are a skier or a snowboarder your knees take a lot of abuse during a day on the hill and simple yoga poses like Warrior II, Supported Pigeon, and Chair Pose all help to strengthen the muscles around the knee to prevent injury.
Although it’s easy to think your legs are doing all the work, core strength is essential if you want to improve your performance on the slopes. Strengthening your core abdominal muscles helps to improve balance and stability which allows you to turn more efficiently and distribute weight more evenly making each move less strenuous on the whole body. Core strengthening poses can include Plank Pose, Extended Triangle Pose, or Boat Pose.
Just five to ten minutes of yoga before you hit the hill for the day can make a tremendous difference in how your muscles will feel when you’re heading to après. The simple art of stretching will relax your body and get your muscles warmed up before you hop on the cold chairlift.
If you’re looking to perfect your on-mountain yoga routine, do yourself a favor and check in to a local studio like Meta Yoga on Ridge Street. With classes for every ability level, you don’t have to feel intimidated if you aren’t a super yogi so visit their website www.metayogastudios.com to learn more. Just make sure you leave your ski and snowboard boots by the door.