I’m a typical 40 something guy who skis. I’m not the stereotypical person to go to yoga class. Let me let you in on a little secret. Yoga is a great way to make skiing and life, in general, feel better. Let’s talk about yoga for skiers.
Common misconceptions about yoga
Let’s dispel a few common misconceptions about yoga first. These are things I hear pretty regularly from my skier and mountain bike friends when I mention I started going to yoga class.
You don’t need to be super limber and able to turn yourself into a pretzel to do yoga.
Some yoga poses are really difficult to get into. Most are not. Most are simple stretches and twists that almost anyone can do. Most poses have varying levels of increasing difficulties for those who feel the need to contort themselves into some weird position.
Yoga is not strenuous and has no cardio or strength training value
Flow classes and especially hot flow classes are very very strenuous. You will leave both of them drenched in sweat and you’ll sleep well that night. Yoga can definitely enhance your strength and endurance for skiing.
Only woman go to yoga class
My experience has been classes are probably around a 60% woman to 40% men split among the attendees. There are instructors of both genders as well. The classes run by men tend to be a little more popular for whatever reason.
Benefits of Yoga for skiers
Yoga has many benefits that will help you feel better skiing. Most of these benefits also apply to any other sport your doing in the off season such as mountain biking.
Strengthen core muscles
Yoga uses a lot of core muscles similar to doing situps or other core strengtheners. Twisting poses and balances will test your core. Skiing involves a lot of core muscles. Proper carving technique requires a lot of independent upper and lower body control.
Skiing is very much a balance sport. Most of the time is spent riding an edge and not standing on 2 flat skies. Moguls and other bumpy surfaces are constantly trying to unbalance you. Many yoga poses will improve your balancing ability. I pretty regularly fall out of poses during class as do most other people taking yoga classes.
Everyone knows that stretching is good for you. Everyone personal trainer you go to at any gym ever will tell you to spend time stretching. Most of us probably don’t do it. There are a lot of stretching poses in yoga and some classes that focus on it. Increased flexibility helps prevent injury.
Better balance and more strength will both help reduce your odds of falling while skiing. Better flexibility means your less likely to get hurt when you do fall. At this age any injury takes a lot longer to recover then it did in my 20’s. Anything we can do to help prevent injuries will help us be able to keep skiing as we get older.
To read more about the benefits of yoga and skiing and a few sample poses click here.
My first yoga class
I started going to yoga classes a couple years ago with my wife and it’s now one of my favorite exercises. I thought in my mind, like a lot of people do, that yoga was a pretty low impact leisurely activity that only woman liked to do. My wife insisted I go to the hot yoga class at our local Lifetime Fitness gym.
I came away from that class with a totally different understanding of what yoga is. I sweat, A LOT! It was easily on a level with an hour of mountain biking at a trail with a lot of technical climbing.
After a few weeks of going to yoga class many of my issues such as minor back pain seemed to improve a lot.
Yoga as a cardio exercise
Flow or Vinyasa yoga classes involve doing a string of poses in a row. Doing these will really get your heart rate going. Flow classes at room temperature are strenuous. Hot flow classes done at elevated temperatures are very strenuous.
If you go to one of these classes don’t feel bad if you need to stop and take a break mid class. Many people need a break. Every yoga instructor will remind you of this during class.
I’m a big fan of going to class at the local gym. Not all gym yoga classes are created equal. The classes at Lifetime Fitness are excellent. The classes at LA Fitness were very leisurely and not great. If you don’t like one class. Don’t give up. Try again until you find an instructor with a style you like.
Some instructors are very subdued and quiet and not that motivating. Many instructors are very loud and good at motivating the class and would probably have made good drill instructors if they ever wanted a career change.
There are many different class formats. I recommend looking for a flow type class. These are typically guided are good for people going to yoga for the first time.
Yoga at home
If the gyms in your area don’t have classses or you want to try yoga without investing in a membership, then you can do Yoga at home too. As I write this we are in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic and all the gyms in our state are shutdown so no gym classes are available. We’ve been doing yoga at home in the meatime.
Lifetime Fitness offers free class on demand on their website. Click here to view them.
Suggest yoga poses for skiing
For a couple of suggested yoga poses click here. The poses suggested are pretty generic and you’ll find them in any beginner level flow yoga class.
- Chair Pose (general unpleasantness core and leg strengthener)
- Boat Pose (core strengthener)
- Spinal Twist (core twists)
- Warrier A, B, C (Lunging poses)
- Reclining Butterfly (leg stretch)
Yoga supplies (What do you need to do yoga)
Fortunately yoga is a very simple activity that doesn’t require much in the way of equipment. The only thing you really need is a mat.
Yoga mats help pad your knees and hands while you push into the ground. Yoga mats help prevent you from slipping.
Yoga blankets are an optional thing that helps a lot to prevent slipping on the mat when you get sweaty and the mat gets wet. They make cleanup a little easier since you can throw the blanket in the washing machine with your laundry.
I hope after reading this you’ll feel inspired to go give yoga a try. Go sign up for a class or try an at-home online class if you can’t take a class nearby where you live or work. I promise if you give it a try you’ll find yourself feeling better on your next ski day and you’ll see the benefit of yoga for skiers.
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.