Top 5 Yoga Poses for Skiing
By Gwen Lawrence
Special to espnW.com
In a new series, Celebrity Yoga Coach Gwen Lawrence will choose a sport and show us the top five poses designed to keep athletes in the game. This month, the focus is on skiing.
The key to using Power Yoga for Sports to reduce the risk of injury in any sport is to be proactive, not reactive. In the sport of Skiing, that means being careful to have strong legs to endure long challenging slopes. Any skier must have exceptional back and abdominal strength to hold perfect form for optimum control. Open and flexible hips are essential to protect the knees in the event you hit unstable surface or for more graceful falls. Above all else with skiing, as with most all sports procuring a symmetrical body is essential to a smooth more effortless run down any mountain.
Here are some poses to achieve and effortless satisfying run on the slopes.
1. Chair Pose: this pose is a clear winner to develop the leg strength and form needed to maneuver even the toughest run. Chair pose has a double payoff, because it also reinforces the strength in the spine when you hold perfect flat backs. Try chair pose holds for 10 breaths, fold over to standing forward bend and repeat the sequence 3-5 times.
2. Chair Twist: adding the twist to the basic chair pose will open the oblique’s to facilitate subtle changes in the core that will direct your ski’s. Open oblique’s will ad to the skiers ability to endure the aerobic part of skiing all day by opening all the muscles between the ribs and stretching the side body for more control and better lung capacity. Hold chair twists 30 seconds on each side 2-3 sets. The added bonus of more quad work will enhance the legs strength further.
3. Forearm plank hold: unlike plank holds, forearm plank really digs deep into the abdominal strength while holding perfect form challenges all the spinal muscles to be able to maintain the skier’s target body positioning. I recommend to be in prime slope shape you do 3 one minute holds, being careful to hold the body very straight and not drooping the mid section.
4. Bow Pose: necessary after a long day on the mountain holding perfect form, with a precision angle at the hip joint the skier must take time to open the hip flexors. Too many times they are ignored areas on the body and if not addressed can cause a lot of pressure on the low back and misalign the spine. For these reasons it is imperative that you take 3 bow poses with each one being at least a 30 second hold with deep thoughtful breathing. Between each bow pose, due to the deep back bending posture position take a 3-4-breaths child pose ahhhhhh!
5. Rock & Rolls: this movement more than pose will never be taught so I am sharing this secret with you. This move is an astounding way to zone in on your needs before you hit the hills. It will show you loud and clear if you are off balance, if that is the case. I cannot stress enough how important for precision sports it is to be symmetrical. If your alignment is off you will be working significantly harder to keep on track and swerve less. Lying on your back, bring your knees into your chest; hold the legs behind your thighs and CLOSE YOUR EYES!! Do not peek or you ruin your analysis. Inhale exhale deeply and rock and roll vigorously 6-7 times. On the 7th rep stop in the seated position and open your eyes and see where you are. You may be quite surprised to see yourself facing the opposite direction or on your neighbors yoga mat!
· If you pull or turn right you may need to consider your right hip or low back is tight and needs work, and vice versa
· If you inch worm to the front of your mat you may need more deep hip flexor stretching, tight hip flexors enhance the lumbar curve.
· If you morphed over to the right of your mat but still face forward consider upper back and shoulder work and vice versa.
Whatever your imbalances end up being I am sure you will be astounded by the outcome of this little trick.
Stretch, strengthen and don’t skip a day!
Gwen Lawrence owns Power Yoga for Sports and works with athletes in professional basketball, football, baseball, hockey soccer as well as many colleges and Olympians. Follow her on Twitter @gwenlawrence www.gwenlawrence.com