Yoga for Snowboarders

After an amazing long weekend of snowboarding in Quebec, I knew after my first day on the slopes that my body wasn’t going to forgive me if I didn’t take the time to stretch before hitting the après scene. Quads, hamstrings, shines, calves, and arches were all killing! – The first ride of the season is always so much fun!  So here are a few of the stretches I did to relieve my sore muscles and get me ready for another great day on the slopes.

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Standing Back Bend

tremblant 2013 051 Directions: Standing in mountain pose with big toes together and heels slightly apart, place hands on the lower back and gently arch the spin opening through the chest looking up.

Benefits:

  • Stretches shoulders and chest

Chair Pose

tremblant 2013 052Directions: Stand with the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart.  Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor with palms together or keep the arms parallel to the floor. Exhale and bend your knees, bringing the thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Hold for 30seconds to 1 minute.

 Benefits:

  • Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
  • Stretches shoulders and chest
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart

Big Toe Pose

IMG_2975From standing position with feet six inches apart, exhale and fold forward. Bend knees slightly if pressure is felt on the lower back. Head should hang heavily from the upper spine. Slide the index and middle fingers of each hand between and around the big and second toes gripping the big toes firmly. Press your toes down against your fingers. Bend your elbows out to the sides, pull up on your toes, lengthen the front and sides of your torso, and gently lower into the forward bend. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

 Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress, anxiety and mild
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the hamstrings and calves
  • Strengthens the thighs

Garland Pose

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Squat with your feet as close together as possible. Separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso and lean your torso forward fitting between your thighs. Press your elbows against your inner knees, bringing your palms to together in prayer. Hold the position for 5 to 8 breaths, then inhale, straighten the knees, and stand.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the ankles, groins and back torso

Downward Facing Dog

IMG_2965Directions: From Garland Pose, exhale placing both hands on the floor and step back lifting the seat towards the sky. Spread hands and feet as they are pressed onto the floor. Focus is on lengthening the upper body. Legs should be straight, but may be bent as needed. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs

Low Lunge

tremblant 2013 057Directions: Beginning in Downward-Facing Dog pose, inhale and step your right foot between your hands into a lunge. Lower your back knee onto the floor, placing the top of your foot against the ground. Bring your hands to your right knee while sinking your hips toward the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the hip flexors, and hamstrings
  • Strengthens the legs

Pigeon

pigeonDirections: From Low Lunge, bring the right leg forward in front of the body with the right knee bent and the foot flexed. Extend the left leg behind the body with the left toes on the floor. To extend the pose, place the left hand or the left forearm on the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

 Benefits:

  • Stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck
  • Opens the shoulders and chest

Kneel with Toe Stretch (knees on floor)

tremblant 2013 069Directions: Kneeling with the toes tucked under bring the seat back towards the heels sitting the body back and opening through the chest.

Benefits:

  • Stretches thighs, knees, ankles, and arches

Kneel with Shin Stretch

shinDirections: Kneeling on the floor, sit back on your heels lifting your upper body slightly, and flattening your feet on the floor. Slowly sit back on your heels. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Benefits:

  • Stretches thighs, knees, ankles, and shins

Bound Angle Pose

coblerstremblant 2013 061Directions: Sit on the floor, or with your pelvis on a blanket, bending your knees, pulling your heels toward your pelvis. Drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together, bringing your heels as close to your pelvis as possible. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If the arches of your feet are sore, massage them with your hands or grab the big tie of each foot with the first and second finger and thumb. Stay in this pose for 1 to 5 minutes.

Benefits:

  • Stimulates the heart and improves general circulation
  • Stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees

 Legs up the Wall (modified)

legs u wDirections: Sit sideways to the wall (or chair) with your right hip touching the wall. Exhale and, with one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. To ext the posture, carefully roll onto your side or use your legs to push yourself away from the way. Stay on your side for a few 5 to 10 minutes, and come up to sitting position with an exhalation.

Benefits:      

  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind

And just for fun and because I’ve mastered it on the left side (woo hoo) – Grasshopper!

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Yoga for EveryBODY

Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility, gain strength, and find calm. The  Sanskrit word yoga itself, means “union,” so whether you come to yoga for your body or your mind, know that both should be considered in making the body “whole.”

Take a few minutes to relieve your stress, and gain muscular strength and improve your flexibility by giving these five basic yoga poses a try.

Side Bend:

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Directions: Stand with feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Inhale and lift arms in a wide arc to either side, until they are overhead. Exhale, engage the core and lengthen the body while leaning to the right. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths, then engaging the core, raise to stand. Repeat on the left.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches hips, side body, and arms

Tree Pose:

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Directions: From a standing position, bend the left knee and place the left foot on the inner right ankle, shin, or thigh as able, pressing the thigh (or part of leg) against the foot. Once the body is stable, place hands on the waist, in prayer at the chest, or reach arms up and look up, opening across the chest. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths, and then repeat on the right.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
  • Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
  • Improves sense of balance

Warrior 2:

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Directions: From tree pose, step the elevated right foot back  into a lunge, bending the left knee to 90°. Lower the back (right) heel to the floor perpendicular to the front foot. Raise the arms parallel to the floor and reach them out to the sides with palms down. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths..

Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders

Plank:

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Directions: From Warrior 2 pose, inhale lowering the hands on either side of the front foot, and step the front foot back into a high push up position. Keep the body forward so the shoulders are over the wrists with arms perpendicular to the floor. The torso should not collapse or lift. Body should remain straight from head to toes. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine
  • Tones the abdomen

Downward Facing Dog:

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Directions: From plank, exhale and hinge back at the waist lifting the seat towards the sky. Spread hands and feet as they are pressed onto the floor. Focus is on lengthening the upper body. Legs should be straight, but may be bent as needed. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs

Warrior 2:

DSCN3180

Directions: From DWD, step forward with the right foot into a lunge, bending the right knee to 90°. Lower the back (left) heel to the floor. Raise the arms parallel to the floor and reach them out to the sides with palms down. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Plank:

DSCN3176

Directions: From Warrior 2, inhale placing both hands on either side of the front foot, then step the front foot back into a high push up position. Keep the body forward so the shoulders are over the wrists. Arms should be perpendicular to the floor. The torso should not collapse or lift. Body should remain straight from head to toes. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Downward Facing Dog:

DSCN3178

Directions: From Plank, exhale and hinge back at the waist lifting your seat towards the sky. Spread hands and feet as they are pressed onto the floor. Focus is on lengthening the upper body. Legs should be straight, but may be bent as needed. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.

Legs Up The Wall:

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Directions: Sit sideways to the wall with your right hip touching the wall. Exhale and, with one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. To ext the posture, carefully roll onto your side or use your legs to push yourself away from the way. Stay on your side for a few 5to 10 minutes, and come up to sitting position with an exhalation.

Benefits:

  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind

Want to see this program in action? Tune in to CHCH Morning Live on February 4th at 8:50am to watch me and yoga goddess Katie McClelland from De La Sol Yoga Hamilton and Sol Yoga Burlington.

For more information on National Legs Up The Wall Day, check out the Facebook group!

Update: To watch the segment click here!