I've been practicing yoga since 1987 and skiing since 1979. When I retired from ski racing in 1994, I ranked 17th in women's slalom in the United States. At 49 years old, I still aggressively ski at least 30 days a year in Colorado, Utah, and Europe, but I methodically use these yoga-based moves to warm up and prevent injury.
Even if you're new to skiing, these exercises are a great way to get comfortable with your equipment. Many can be modified for snowboarders, too. Find a flat surface to prevent sliding, then let loose and play! You may inspire others to join the fun, too.
Here are five yoga poses you can do on your skis:
1. Upward hands (urdhva hastasana)
Upward hands is the perfect way to gently lengthen your spine and warm up your shoulder rotator cuffs, which is especially important if you do tricks. Bend your knees slightly and reach toward the sky as you create space between your vertebrae. Look up and take the opportunity to inhale gratitude for the beautiful setting and the privilege of being on the mountain.
2. Downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
This classic yoga pose is super fun on skis, because your heels are held down by your bindings. From upward hands, sweep your arms alongside your body to the ground. Walk your hands toward your ski tips. Inhale deeply to fill the back of your lungs, then exhale, and as you arch your back slightly. Nice calf stretch, right?
3. Standing star (utthita tadasana)
Open your arms and slide your legs wide. Activate your inner thighs and your triceps to generate heat. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your chin up to stretch open your chest and the whole front side of your body.
4. Chair pose (utkatasana)
Fire up your quadriceps muscles with chair pose. Your skis are the perfect bodily extension to allow you to really sit back on your heels. Tuck your tummy slightly and lift your arms to generate extra warmth. Hold for three to five long breaths.
5. Revolved chair pose (parivttra utkatasana)
Add a twist to your chair pose. Bring your hands to heart center, then hook your elbow over your opposite knee. Press your elbow against your knee to turn your chest toward the sky. Remember to twist on both sides. And no, this doesn't mean you can go into the chalet for more spiked cider now!
K. Mae Copham is a visual artist, RYT-200 yoga instructor, and the creator of Yoga Teddy Bear. She is based in NYC. Yoga Teddy Bear invites you to soften your yoga and approach your practice with an attitude of playfulness and joy, whether you're five or 95 years young. The project consists of story books, asana books, coloring books, stickers, yoga mats, animations and more featuring the Yoga Teddy Bear character and friends based on yoga poses.