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We get it, skiing is exciting. When the snow is falling, the only thing on your mind is getting to the chairlift for some sweet, sweet runs. But bolting toward the mountain as soon as you park and immediately clipping into your skis or snowboard might lead to sitting in the lodge more than getting in turns. Starting off your day with tight muscles could lead to discomfort and even injury, so it’s important to get your body warmed up for the physical activity ahead.
Taking a few minutes to warm up with some yoga-based stretching will prime your body for the day ahead, reducing that dreaded leg burn you feel on your first couple of runs. Even 10 minutes of stretching could extend your shred time for hours, and reduce any soreness that you may feel the next day.
The yoga poses below can be completed anywhere—in the parking lot, lift line, or hotel room. These poses for skiers and snowboarders target your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, obliques, and back so your whole body is prepared for the bumps, twists, and turns that you’ll encounter on the mountain.
How the pose preps you for skiing: Simple but effective, the act of “touching your toes” lengthens your hamstrings—even if you can’t actually reach your feet. Your hamstrings help to stabilize your legs and keep your knees bent, which are crucial for staying balanced while shuffling to the lift and going downhill. For an added stretch, cup your elbows with the opposite hands and gently sway your left elbow toward your left knee. This movement lengthens your right side body—or oblique—as well. Then sway to the other side. This movement prepares your torso for the sharp twists that you may take to slow down, change directions, or ride through moguls.
How to practice Standing Forward Bend:
How the pose preps you for skiing: Similar to Uttanasana, folding forward with your feet wide stretches the outer edges of your calves. Snowboarders know that all-too-familiar feeling of the side of your calves burning from shifting your weight over your front foot. Prasarita helps with that. This posture also lengthens the muscles on your inner thighs, which enables you to easily shift your weight from side to side. Plus, you can grip your elbows and sway just like you did in Uttanasana to continue waking up your obliques.
How to practice Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend:
How the pose preps you for skiing: Continue to lengthen the backs of your thighs with this standing posture. Sometimes referred to as Intense Side Stretch, it lives up to its name by giving a nice stretch along the entire back of your extended leg. It also stretches your psoas, the muscle that flexes your hips. When skiing, hip mobility is essential for squatting deeper, shifting your weight from side to side, and for positioning your skis in pizza and french fries. Pro tip: Much like Standing Forward Bend, hinging at your hips instead of at your waist helps you maintain a flat back, which brings you deeper and increases the stretching sensation in your hamstrings and hips.
How to practice Pyramid Pose:
How the pose preps you for skiing: This posture offers a combination of stretching and strengthening, making it an excellent primer for a day of skiing. Both feet actively press into the ground, strengthening and lengthening your hip flexors, glutes, and quadriceps. A ski pole at your side can help you maintain balance and keep your torso upright.
How to practice Low Lunge:
How the pose preps you for skiing: Introduce your legs to the rigors of skiing and snowboarding without the added moguls. Sitting back into Chair Pose activates your glutes, quadriceps, and core, getting your body ready for exercise while you’re still on a more stable platform.
How to practice Chair Pose:
How the pose preps you for skiing: After all of that stretching and priming, the final component that you’re going to want to focus on is your balance. Whether you’ve been doing snow sports for years or this is your first time on the slopes, gliding down a trail relies on being able to maintain your balance. Tree Pose is a standing balance posture that can help you find your center of gravity.
How to practice Tree Pose:
See also: These Yoga Techniques Are So Simple, You Can Practice Them While Skiing