This post comes from yoga/meditation teacher Jayne Gottlieb of local Aspen yoga studio, Shakti Shala.
If you've ever spent time on the slopes, you'll know that a long day of skiing or snowboarding can put a huge demand on your body and leave you barley able to get out of bed, let alone out of the condo for day two on the mountain.
Thankfully, yoga-based stretching can help to counteract many of the muscular imbalances and the tightness that arises when you spend time shredding it on the slopes. The next time you hit the mountain, take five or ten minutes at the beginning or the end of the day to go through the following sequence of stretches and watch your entire body embrace the mountain.
1. The Crescent Lunge
Come to a full standing position. Step your right leg backward four to five feet and take your right knee to the ground. Your left leg should be bent with your knee stacked directly above your left ankle. Rest your hands on the knee of the front leg and allow your hips to gently descend toward the ground. To deepen the stretch, stretch softly backward through the toes of your left foot, let your hips drop closer to the floor, and take a slight backbend until you feel more stretch in the front of the right thigh.
Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
2. The Kleenex Corner (other wise known as chair pose)
As many of you know, the skiers squat can definitely strengthen the legs and get the body warmed up to face the mountain from a power stance, but if you're really feeling stiff, the butt cheeks and lower back can get an awesome stretch here too! Bend the knees, legs together, and then begin to sit down in an imaginary chair. Reach the arms to the sky help balance the weight of your bootie. On the in-breath lengthen, and on the out-breath take the left elbow outside the right knee, hands meet in a prayer position. This is an awesome twist to get the blood moving in the body. On the inhale reach your arms back up to the sky and then exhale, take your right elbow outside your left thigh and twist to the other side. Repeat a few times side to side moving in synch with the breath.
3. The Figure 4
Once you've finished the twisting chair pose to both sides several times, come back to neutral with both arms lifted toward the sky, and straighten the legs, standing tall. Bring the weight into your left leg and raise the right knee up. Cross the right ankle over the left knee, forming a figure 4 with your right leg, and then begin to sit down in your imaginary chair again, sitting the bootie way back and stretching into the gluteal the leg, and then back. You can leave your hands lifted or take one hand to the knee and one to the ankle and apply a small bit of pressure to intensify the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
4. The Ninjasana
Come to a standing position and heel-toe your feet apart until they are separated by around four to five feet. Turn your right toes slightly outward about 25 degrees, and bend the right leg, and lean into it so that left leg straightens and the toes point upwards towards the sky. Place your hands on the floor and switch from side to side to get an incredible stretch in the inner thighs and lower back! Keep your spinal column long and straight and lean forward until your torso is parallel to the earth.
5. The Wide Legged Forward-Fold
Once you've finished stretching your inner thigh muscles, place your hands on the floor, straighten your legs and turn your toes inward toward your face about 25 degrees. Lengthen your spine by lifting upward to your fingertips. Keep your legs as straight as possible and fold forward until you feel a comfortable degree of stretch across the backs of both legs.
To deepen the stretch, walk your hands backward until your fingertips align with your toes. Keeping all four corners of your feet rooted to the floor, rock just a little weight forward toward the balls of your feet until your hips stack directly above your ankles. Elongate outward through the top of your head, and if possible, rest the top of your head on the ground.
Hold for 30 seconds.
6. Standing Backbend
From the wide legged forward fold, lift to your fingertips and lengthen your spine. To stand up, simply take your hands to your waist, and stand up slowly. One you've gotten to vertical, place your hands on your lower back, lengthen upward out of your waist, and take a gentle standing backbend. Drive down through your feet, draw your elbows backward and together to broaden your chest, and gently press the bottom tips of your shoulder blades upward and into your chest to deepen the stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds, come back to vertical and step your feet all the way together to release.
This is a fantastic sampler for any skier or boarder looking to open the body and feel better day after day in the slopes. Know that if you're looking for more, Aspen's favorite locally owned yoga studio, right downtown on the Cooper St Mall has daily early bird (fresh track yoga), and après ski stretch classes that offer a complete, fun, and relaxing class just right for anyone hoping to feel better on and off the slopes. We even offer Thug Yoga for the skier/boarder who is curios but also wants the party - Aspen Brew CO beer provided!
Tip - yoga helps to lessen even the best of hangovers, too!
Come check us out! Aspenshakti.com 535 E. Hyman Street