Updated: Feb 8
As most dedicated or even the "once in while" ski moms know, mornings getting to the mountain are a little less than poetic moments. They are sleepy eyed, hurried, bearlike kids and usually something gets left behind.
Through the years of being a mountain mama I have learned the importance of having just few moments alone. In the quiet before I start to stir up anyone else.
Ski mornings I am up well before the sun get my coffee going, start packing the lunch bags, get a hearty and sustainable breakfast going. Before the first cup of coffee is done, I start to rally the kids. The hour flies by as we grab the last of the gear and pile into the truck, 2 kids, 2 dogs and a some stuff. Ok, lots of stuff. But hey! We stay warm and comfortable and generously fed with our dialed in tailgate set up so it's totally worth the work!
Luckily our weekend mountain home is only nine miles away from our local mountain White Pass, Wa. Yet being so close doesn't seem to defuse the hectic ness of the morning.
We get there, second cup of coffee is halfway done and we start setting up basecamp with the fellow Mountain Mamas. Ski team kids are geared up and off to start their day. Cadet teenagers are eager to get a few good runs in before their first check in and the mama's have our boots warming in the truck/ van as we adopt a little slower pace to get out there.
I love showing up before the mountain opens. Heck the sun isn't even fully up by the time we arrive. To be there in the quiet, breathing the crisp cold air and slowly watching the mountain wake up really sets the tone of the day. It's magically inspiring. This is when I have the time to sneak in a few yoga postures in. Just to be sure my body is awake, muscles are alert & ready for their call to action and I am connected to my breath.
Most of the season I have the divine opportunity to offer yoga in the Nordic Yurt sacross the highway before opening hours. However, not everyone can stay close enough to get to the mountain by 7am so I have this for you! The importance of checking in and making sure you are connected mind and body especially after the hurried, sometimes less than pretty mornings, is unprecedented. Here are seven easy peasy lemon squeezy, highly effective yoga postures you can do to start the day on the slopes off right!
Whether your boots are on or off, you're tailgating or enjoying breakfast in the lodge you don't need much space! Gosh! If you're super rad, you could even do this while waiting for first chair!
7 Must Do Postures for Skiing
When performing these postures hold each for about 5 rounds of breathe. Allow your breathe to be controlled and easy. Even inhales and exhales. Photos are listed first, followed by a brief description. Remember, you cannot replace the benefits of an in person teacher but this should help you get in a little extra benefits for the body!
1. Half Moon
Stretches the side body, awakens the spine, encourages length of the spine while creating harmony between the torso and hip complex. Stand with feet as close together as you can, zipper up the inner thighs and draw the tailbone down away from your shoulders. Inhale reach arms up over head, interlace the fingers, press your palms together. On your exhale reach up and over to one side. Hold and breathe. Even inhales and exhales. Return to center and repeat on other side.
Back bending is an essential movement to add into your morning routine. It doesn't have to be far or a super deep bend. Just enough to feel a little extra space in the front body and stimulate the nervous system that runs the entire length of your spinal cord. Back bending helps strengthen the low back and make it supple for the impact skiing can have. Root down through the ball mounds and heels of your feet, lift arms up over head. On a inhale lengthen up, as you exhale reach slightly behind you. Keep breathing to find comfort and control through the bend. Only go as far as you feel comfortable with.
3. Forward Fold/ Ragdoll
Find blanche from the backbend by taking it into a forward fold. Adding length to the spine, fresh blood and oxygen flow to the brain and most definitely waking up your hamstrings. This is a pose you can really spend some time in. You can just dangle the upper body or you can get a little more active with it by grabbing onto your boots and pulling the upper body down. Pull in the low belly. This will add a little space to get deeper into the fold and allow you to lift the still bones a little higher. Keeping a slight bend in the knees is absolutely good so you can get into the hamstrings a little bit more. Breathe into the space that is most tight, but if it pulls ease out. Bend the knees a little
more and see if you can get back into it!
4. Lunge / Warrior 2
Good morning hip flexors! Getting into a lunge or even further into a Warrior pose is SO helpful for your hip complex. Lots of goodies happen here and initiating strength from your glutes will help protect your knees as a skier. Wakening your hip flexors with the extension of the back leg will give you a better response time between each turn and improve your technique. I shared photos with different variations. The arms overhead also helps wake up your thoracic (mid upper back) and makes a connection with lower and upper body. Lots of benefits from reaching the arms over head. Remember to keep the shoulders relaxed down as you lift your arms ;)
To perform, step one foot out in front of the other as far as comfortable where you can lunge into the front leg. Allow the knee to track just past the toes (which means don't let it fall in, keep it inline with the hip joint) and stack the knee above the ankle. Hold and breathe. Allowing a little more depth as you exhale. ALWAYS listen to your body, it has a lot to share and don't go any father than you can breathe through comfortably.
5. Low Pyramid with Toe Lift
A great counter posture from your lunge or warriors. Targeting the opposite side of the the legs and letting you get a bit deeper into the hamstrings, calf and ankle. You do not have to lift the toe if your body says "No!" The toe lift is an advancement. Keeping hips squared to the ground, both legs straight, lengthen the spine as you fold over the front leg. It's totally ok to rest your hand on your thigh or shin. Keep weight forward to your front leg and avoid getting lazy by pulling your back hip forward to keep the hips square!
6. Dancer's Pose / Quad Stretch
Start by standing in anatomic position, hips & shoulders are neutral and stacked. Bend one leg back and grab onto the foot (inside or outside) without twisting your elbow. This might be enough of a stretch just holding here. If you want more, you can raise the opposite arm, palm faces out and kick into the hand holding onto your foot. Lots of goodies happen here but allow the stretch to stay in the quads. The front part of your leg. This pose greatly helps the mind body connection needed for skiing by stimulating your balance, focus and awareness of where your body is in space. It also helps warm up the low back, win win!
7. Standing Figure 4
This is one you can easily do sitting on the tailgate of your car, if you have a camp chair that your hips don't sink down into you can use that, lean against your car (if it's clean enough!) or stay with the balance challenge. Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh and sit as low as you can until you feel a deep stretch in your glutes. Hold and breathe. Hands can be raised up for a little more, on your hips for balance assistance of you can hold your foot and use your other arm to create a little resistance. Wherever you can find your breathe and comfort with a a good stretch is perfect. Keep the chest lifted so weight stays back in the booty. This is SO good for your deep hip rotators and buddy muscles!
Thats it! Now you're ready to hit the slopes with a warmed and connected body! Staying with the practice of yoga doesn't have to be difficult. Any time you connect your breath with mindful m movements you are in that practice. And if you'd like to watch this guided video click here for a recorded version of this practice. I love to offer the videos for instruction, they take a lot of time and just keep improving! All I ask is small donation through Venmo @Sara-Washburn-4 to keep the videos and content coming! Simply type "SkiingYogi" in the comments and you'll receive the password for access to the video.