Three yoga poses for winter conditioning
By Callie Stolz EBS Contributor
Winter has arrived, are you ready? A yoga practice is a fantastic way to condition body and mind for winter activities, especially downhill skiing and snowboarding. When we feel strong, yet flexible, we can have more fun and be more adaptable to deep powder days or crusty conditions when we just want to get out and make a few turns.
One of the most powerful lessons we learn on our mats is how to live our yoga off the mat. Taking the core principles of muscular energy, core engagement, strong alignment, flexibility, breath work, and mental focus from our mats to the mountain is a natural transition. Engaging muscular energy creates a strong foundation in our feet and legs, which gives us stability and balance.
Tuning into our core helps us feel strong, supported and able to move with ease and grace. The key is to find the balance between strength and flexibility, when to draw in, and when to extend. This creates a sense of freedom in our body – as well as our minds and hearts – so we can adapt to whatever comes our way: on the mountain, on our mat and in our life.
Callie Stolz is a certified yoga instructor, Ayurvedic practitioner, licensed massage therapist, and owner of Big Sky’s Santosha Wellness Center.
Boat pose (Navasana)This pose develops core strength – engage your belly, lift your lower back, and breathe. From here, there are many variations: Hold this position, straighten your legs or twist side to side while extending one leg, keeping the opposite shin parallel to floor. Stay engaged and move with your breath. If you feel pain in your lower back, hold your legs underneath your knees for support and work toward variations as your strength develops.
Chair pose (Utkatasana)
Chair pose is a fantastic way to build strength in your feet, legs and core. Begin with your feet hip-distance apart, engage your core, create a small curve in your lower back and sink into an imaginary chair aligning your knees over your second toe.
Variations: Lift your heels, lift one leg and lightly tap your foot with your breath 10 times each. Add a twist and hold for five breaths on each side, or transition into Warrior III and back again.
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Warrior III develops strong balance and focus, strengthens the core and legs, and stretches your hamstrings. Bend your knees, lift one leg, engage your core, hinge forward and extend your engaged leg and foot behind you. Square your hips, extend your arms, and lift through your extended inner thigh.
Variations: Bend your knee and hover to build strength around the knee, or place your hands on the ground – or foam blocks – and move toward standing splits, then transition back to Warrior III.
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