Yoga for Skiing: Stay NAMASTEEZY
On countless occasions I have shared with people that I do Yoga, and I usually get the same response; “Oh, I’ve never tried that” followed by “It’s because I’m not very flexible.” Having always been open to doing and trying new things, I wonder what type of connotation Yoga has to the majority of our society. Living in a very adventurous, outdoorsy town, where so many of us would benefit from yoga, I would like to facilitate a more welcoming open-door approach to “the yoga scene” …
So let me compare yoga to something more people, here in Park City, have in common, like SKIING! After a hard day of skiing, your legs and arms, maybe even your core (if you ski like a hockey player like myself) are SPENT! That’s because of your core. You’re using your transverse, rectus and oblique abdomens which helps your balance and gives you that nice parentheses shape around your belly button. You’re using your hamstrings and quadriceps, which help bend and stabilize your knee joints. You’re using your gluteus muscles to help move those legs to pump you through that foot deep powder, the strongest muscles in your booty, which are made even stronger by skiing. AND last but not least, your feet and ankles, which are so complex that they have both intrinsic and extrinsic muscles. When engaging your dorsiflexion, it draws your toes towards your shins. You may feel this in your calves, which is important to keep your shins to the tongue of your boot and DRIVING your skis.
Even though most of us aren’t thinking about these muscles constantly contracting and extending while we are skiing, we can feel them. We’ve trained our body to move a certain way over bumps, and through powder and crusty tree shots. For those who have been skiing long enough, this is called muscle memory. Maybe thats why I’m so STOKED about it. I’m a fairly new skier and just learned the proper alignment while constantly having to readjust my posture, which was so awkward for the first couple of months. Now I’m constantly being told “you need more mileage.” The more you do it correctly, the better and more natural it will come to you!
So lets switch perceptions here. Let’s apply that short anatomy lesson above to your next stretching routine. Yoga, from the sanskrit word yuj, can be translated to “yoke”, “bind”, or “unite”. When I participate in yoga, I like to think of my practice as UNIFYING my mind, body, and spirit. Holding each pose for one minute.
Sitting Forward Fold: With both feet out in front (if your hamstrings are tight sit on a pillow) look at your feet. Your second toe should be pointing straight up towards the ceiling, your toes spread and the 3 arches of your feet should be engaged. Now mimic your toes with your torso. Lengthen out your pelvis, side bodies long, shoulder blades squeezed together and hands above your head with your fingers spread palms facing one another. Take a big inhale in and as you exhale slowly, move your chest towards your knees, hands towards your feet. With each inhale, engage those arches in your feet. Lengthen your torso and strengthen your thoracic. Then EXHALE as you move deeper into this stretch, and continue until you can one day suck on your toes (and wouldn’t that be great if it was anatomically possible).
Try this with all of your stretching, and like skiing, the more you do it the better you will become. Unify your mind to your body, your breath as your guide, and spirit as your motivator. Narrate what is happening and what you want to happen. I’m promise you, you will learn a lot about yourself, and see the beneficial changes much more quickly!
Stay NAMASTEEZY yogis!
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