Stretch & Shred: Yoga for Snowboarders

Many athletes say, cross-training with yoga helps them to gain strength, flexibility, and stamina to improve the performance in their sports. Running, dancing, climbing, cycling, surfing, you name it.
The same goes for winter sports and as I just got back from a snowboard trip to the Austrian Alps, I can completely agree with it. For the first time, I really noticed a difference and I’m convinced that it was a result of my regular yoga practice.

Even world-class athletes have discovered Yoga for themselves and cannot image a life without a regular practice:

Terje Haakonsen, a Norwegian professional snowboarder, who is considered one of the most influential snowboarders in the history of the sport says¹:

I wouldn’t still be a professional snowboarder at the level I am if I hadn’t taken care of my body with yoga. Most of my other sports break my body down. Snowboarding, soccer, and skateboarding are rough on the joints and muscles. But yoga builds my body up and wakes up all the little muscles so that all of the parts are working together as a team.

Jamie Anderson, one of the most famous female professional snowboarders attributes Yoga to a lot of her success and actively seeks balance in life²:

For me, it was all about finding that balance. I worked out with my trainer and made yoga a priority. […] I always go to yoga — I do core fusion and Vinyasa. My favorite poses are variations on the handstand and the scorpion. You have to use your whole body, it’s physically and mentally challenging.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an expert snowboarder or skier, or stepping into the bindings of your board or skier for the first time. Yoga will help you build strength, improve balance and recover after a tough day on the slopes.
It really takes quite some courage, strength, balance, and focus to charge down a mountain while being strapped to a board with both feet. I can tell. And I’m sure that snowboarders (and skiers) who spend time on the yoga mat are definitively better prepared for a fun and injury-free time in the snow.

Here is a short list of Asanas for snowboarders (and of course, skiers, too…):

Uttanasana – Standing forward bend

Uttanasana will wake up your hamstrings and soothe your mind.

Utkatasana & Parivritta Utkatasana – Chair pose and twisted chair pose

Chair pose will help you tone the quadriceps and inner thighs and build up feet and core strength. I helps promote proper knee alignment, and increase ankle flexibility,
Try something special and shift your weight into the balls of your feet, lift your heels high and hold for five to ten breaths. Ideally, you practice chair pose with a block between your thighs, squeeze and roll your inner thighs back.

Come into twisted chair pose for more flexibility throughout the spine:
Bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra, exhale and twist to the right by bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Press down firmly into your left foot, to not let your left knee and hip shift forward. Come back to center and twist to the other side.

Virabhadra I Variation – High Crescent Lunge

This warrior I variation improves coordination and balance, tones the entire legs, and strechting the hip flexors.
Try to increase the number of breaths you hold the pose to build strength.

Utkata Konasana – Goddess Pose

Good for toning the feet and legs, keeping balance, and building upper-back strength.

Prasarita Padottanasana – Wide legged forward bend

This pose lengthens the hamstrings and spinal muscles, keep the legs active and inner thighs zipping up. Holding this forward bend for a couple of breaths will help you calm your mind, too.

Lengthens the whole front body and, with practice, can increase range of motion.

Credits & sources:
Picture: https://www.instagram.com/krisrocksberlin/
¹ http://www.yogajournal.com/article/lifestyle/lift-off/
² https://www.stillstoked.com/inspire-me/jamie-anderson-incredible-role-model/

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