Take Your Winter Sports To The Next Level With These Yoga Poses

There are so many great aspects to skiing and snowboarding, but the soreness you experience after a day on the slopes isn't one of them. Tight muscles and aching joints can make a few consecutive days on the slopes tough or even impossible. Don't let soreness get in the way this winter, by utilizing key yoga poses you can be better prepared for a day on the slopes and see quicker recovery too.[slideshow:1156]

Professional Yogi, athlete and Blissologist Eoin Finn has put together a series of poses that will help skiers and boarders prepare for (and recover from) the slopes this season. Finn says incorporating yoga into your routine this winter can help you feel looser and more relaxed, while giving you intimate control of your neuro-muscular system.

Yoga increases range of motion from the muscles used while tackling the steep and deep. What's more, it helps to balance out the muscular imbalances from right to left and front to back. Skiing and snowboarding both use dominant muscles a lot and they develop disproportionately with their antagonistic muscles that do the opposite function. This leads to a lot of joint wear and tear similar to setting the brakes badly on your bicycle. One side wears out. Intelligent yoga strengthens weak muscles and stretches right ones for proper joint functionality.

He warns, though, that not all yoga is good for you and says if you feel any joint pain you should stop immediately and find another pose that works better. When done properly, yoga can be a great tool for improving your mental and physical presence on the slopes. Take a look at the poses that will help most.

Utkatasana (chair pose)

This pose imitates the movement of a snowboard carve. It opens up tight calf muscles, strengthens the legs for the power required for the piston like action needed for a loose and smooth carve. It also provides a ton of core stability and decompresses the lower back.

Instructions: Begin in standing with big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Bend your knees and sink the pelvis low as you reach the arms over head.  To increase traction and decompress the spine lengthen the sit bones in opposition to the arms which are slightly inwardly rotated to increase freedom of the shoulders. Breathe long and deep for 30-60 seconds staying relaxed as the heat builds. Enjoy.
—Eoin Finn

Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana (twisting forward fold)

This move is the snowboarding equivalent of a mute grab and helps with all carving and spinning maneuvers. It lengthens and strengthens the internal and external oblique muscles while lengthening the hamstrings, calf and back muscles. When performed well, it can also decompress the spine.

Instructions: Begin in standing with the arms spread wide and the feet roughly under the palms.  Bring the hands to the hips, inhale and lengthen the spine, then exhale and fold at the hip joints. Bring the hands under the shoulders. People who are tighter will love this pose more and get more benefit by bending the knees.
Bring the right hand under the center of the chest. Inhale, lengthen the spine again and exhale twist to the left, reaching the left hand high. Try and keep the head and sacrum on the central axis and feel like someone is pulling your top left hand to the sky. More advanced people can bring the right elbow to the floor.  Breathe long and deep, lengthening on inhalations and twisting more on exhalations for 30 seconds. Repeat and enjoy on the other side.
—Eoin Finn

Click here to see the rest of the Yoga Poses That Will Take Your Winter Sports to the Next Level