Yoga for Snowboarders? It’s about time!

Posted on Wednesday 22nd December, 2010 Times Viewed: 13573
Anyone who has ever known anything about Yoga would have heard or maybe experienced first-hand for themselves any of the long list of health benefits associated with it. Increased flexibility, core strength and stability, healthy joints, better stamina, balance and co-ordination to name a few found benefits not to mention increased concentration and focus and also a calm, clear relaxed mind.
The popularity and links between yoga and surfing have long been established. Many surfers swear by their yoga practice and it’s clear from the endless number of ‘Yoga & Surf’ Retreats and holidays offered all over the world that these 2 disciplines are highly compatible. But wait, isn’t snowboarding often likened to surfing? So why hasn’t the snowboarding world caught on and yet made this same connection with yoga?

It’s about time snowboarders recognised that they too could really improve their riding through the practice of Yoga. Snowboarding relies on strength, stability and flexibility in the larger muscle groups, particularly quadriceps, hamstrings, lower leg and core muscles in the abdomen and back. All of which can be effectively targeted through a regular yoga practice. I find it amusing when men come to my class and are surprised and even shocked at how much strength, stamina and endurance are all required in yoga. Some still think that yoga is just for girls and then they’ll be sweating buckets and their muscles shaking when trying to hold the postures. At the moment I regularly teach a bunch of cage fighters and Brazilian Ju Jitsu martial artists and even they find the Yoga really strengthening in a complimentary way.

With this article I hope to highlight how yoga specifically helps snowboarding and also offer straight forward and accessible yoga warm-up and warm- down routines to prepare both for, and recover from a day up the hill.

YOGA HELPS IN THE PARK

SPINS- Yoga improves your posture and leads to greater body alignment intelligence. Being properly aligned and having a good awareness of your weight distribution is essential for spinning. Andy Webb, Stepchild rider says, ‘I have to visualise myself doing the trick in order to land it’.

RAILS- Yoga improves your balance, co-ordination and agility and therefore improves your ability to move at speed with precision which is helpful when hitting rails.

KICKERS –Yoga strengthens the tendons and ligaments in the joints which gives you a greater ability to absorb shock from impact and so your joints are protected when landing kickers.

YOGA HELPS FREERIDING

IN POWDER Yoga also improves cardio-vascular fitness and there are plenty of yoga postures that strengthen your core and your legs which is really useful for hiking up to find untouched powder spots.

TREE RUNS Facing down the mountain side-on, on your board and having to continually do quick sharp turns mean that strong and stable core trunk muscles are really helpful for stabilising your body around your centre of gravity so that you can charge through any terrain.

DROPS Being more flexible means that you avoid straining ligaments and tendons so that if you do take a bad landing, you bounce when you fall rather than crumble!

YOGA PREVENTS INJURY AND SPEEDS UP RECOVERY

Practicing yoga is a brilliant way of ensuring injury prevention, and aiding in the recovery process. For example, in order to prevent and recover from knee injury, it’s important to focus on equally strengthening and stretching all muscle groups in the legs, otherwise the knee joint winds up taking the strain.

YOGA CAN GIVE YOU FOCUS, CONFIDENCE AND COMPOSURE

Through the focus on building a deep mind-body connection, you’ll learn to really focus and concentrate 100% on what you’re doing. By taking deep relaxed breaths effort that you exert becomes effortless. With a calm clear mind, free of distraction, anxiety or fear you are present in each moment and each movement which will allow you to overcome any obstacle calmly and confidently with control.

Yoga WARM UP

This short sequence aims to get the blood flow going and help you feel energised and limbered up for the day ahead. The sequence focuses on building strong quadriceps muscles, flexible and strong hamstrings, calf and shin muscles as well as flexible achilles because that is what is required for maintaining the squat stance that you assume on a snowboard.

10 X SHOULDER CIRCLES fig1.

Start by checking that your feet are hip distance apart, toes in line with heels, your spine is lengthened, and chest opened. Have the crown of you head reaching up. Close the eyes and connect to the natural rhythm of your breath. Then once you feel grounded and centred, begin to take deeper breaths.

Keeping this good posture INHALE raise your arms out in front of you then circle them all the way up overhead, as you EXHALE take your arms back down behind you to complete a shoulder circle. Repeat 5 times making sure that you keep your feet grounded and maintain a good posture to ensure that the movement is isolated to the shoulders. Circle for Then with the same breath pattern, shoulders the reverse way, counter-clockwise X5.

Click to view full image Figure 1

20 X SQUATS fig. 2

Depending on the flexibility in your achillies ad lower back, position your feet at a reasonable distant apart toes in line with heels and hands to opposite shoulders. Keep your back straight and as you EXHALE squat all the way down to the floor. On a deep inhale come back to standing. Repeat 20 times. As you get more comfortable can begin bringing the feet close together. Try not to let the heels raise up off the ground.

Click to view full image Figure 2 Click to view full image Figure 3

10 X STANDING TWISTS fig3.

INHALE stretch the left arm out in front of you, keep in shoulder height and stretch your right arm straight behind you, keeping the hand in line with your shoulder, gazing to the finger tips. Keep the spine straight, abdominals pulled in tight and your tailbone slightly tucked so that you feel that the back of the body is grounding down to your heels. EXHALE bring the arm back in front of you. Repeat with the LEFT arm stretching behind you. And Repeat 10 times.

SUN SALUTATIONS 3 or 5 Complete sets.
Sun Salutations are a complete exercise in themselves, a series of forward and backward-action bends that work the main muscle groups, strengthen the joints, improve cardio fitness, increase lung capacity and improve circulation.

Fig 4-7 Forward Bend Section
Prayer Position- Deep Relaxed Breath, Stand up tall, straight spine (fig 4)
INHALE Raise Arms up (fig 5)

EXHALE Forward Bend. Bend forward from the hips keeping the spine lengthened, have your weight on your toes rather than heels. (fig 6).

INHALE Half Forward Bend, (fig7) lift the chest look forward but keep the back of the neck long and relaxed, be on your fingertips or the your hands to the shins.

As you EXHALE Bend the knees, bring your palms to the floor underneath the shoulders and hop or step back into a High Plank (fig 8)

Fig 8-11 The ‘Connecting Vinyasa’ Section

In High Plank, INHALE and ensure hands are directly under shoulders, fingers spread, core engaged by abdominals pulled in. Keep a straight line from your head to your heels.

As you EXHALE, Low Plank, slowly lower down, keeping your body in one straight line and elbows hugged in to your sides. Don’t let your hips, tummy or shoulders sink! (fig9). (You can bring the knees down first if you haven’t yet got the strength to maintain the straight line)

INHALE, Upward Facing-Dog Roll the chest up and look up, shoulders back, elbows close in to the body (fig 10).

EXHALE Downward-Facing Dog, Tuck your toes under, Lift your hips up and make V-shape with your body (fig 11).

Fig 12-15 Lunge Section

As you INHALE, raise your right leg up back behind you, keep both legs as straight as possible, 3 Legged Dog (fig 12) then EXHALE shift your weight forward and step your right foot forward between your palms into Runners Lunge, have your chest up and the back of the left knee raising up so that your leg is straight (fig 13).

As you INHALE come into Crescent Lunge, Raise your arms up over head, ensure to keep your hips even as well as you shoulders, this helps with the balance (fig 14).

EXHALE return the hands down to Runners Lunge.(fig 15).
Now Repeat the Connecting Vinyasa, i.e. High Plank, Low Plank, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog but now LEFT LEG raising 3-legged Dog, LEFT leg Runner’s Lunge and LEFT leg Crescent lunge and then Left Leg back to runners Lunge. (fig’s 8-15).

Then in Down Dog, Bend the knees, look and then hop both feet forward to the hands then repeat the Forward Bend Section but in reverse,( figs7, 6, 5 and finally 4) so that you finish where you started on the mat.

Click to view full image Figure 4 Click to view full image Figure 5 Click to view full image Figure 6 Click to view full image Figure 7 Click to view full image Figure 8 Click to view full image Figure 9 Click to view full image Figure 10 Click to view full image Figure 11 Click to view full image Figure 12 Click to view full image Figure 13 Click to view full image Figure 14 Click to view full image Figure 15

Repeat Click to view full image Figure 8 Click to view full image Figure 9 Click to view full image Figure 10 Click to view full image Figure 11

Then repeat FIG 12 – 15 for the LEFT LEG raising, and LEFT leg lunge, followed by repeat the connecting vinyasa, fig 8-11. Then once returned to downward dog, bend the knees look forward and hop or step both feet to standing into a half forward bend. Note that the breath pattern is the same as on the right side.

Figure 7 Click to view full image Figure 6 Click to view full image Figure 5 Click to view full image Figure 4 Click to view full image

This completes one sun salutation. (Having Lunged with both right then left leg forward). I recommend doing at least 3 complete salutations. You can choose to move through quickly, holding each posture for the duration of one inhale or exhale thus making the sun salutations an cardiovascular improving exercise or you can choose to hold each of the individual postures for a number of breaths, focusing on your alignment and exploring depth.

To Stretch out the hamstrings and open the hips, hold a wide-legged forward bend for 5 deep relaxed breaths, ensure that your toes are turned in more so than your heels to avoid any knee strain. (Fig 16). Then Bend the right knee and squat to right, Keep your spine straight and chest up, hand underneath the shoulders 5 Deep breaths (fig 17) and change sides, side-squatting to the left for another 5 deep breaths. Then go back to the right and raise your right arm so that it is directly above your left, turn and look up, 5 deep breaths and repeat for the left side.

Figure 16 Click to view full image Figure 17 Click to view full image

Figure 18 Click to view full image Figure 19 Click to view full image

This completes your warm up!

WARM DOWN

Although you feel shattered after a day’s riding, and muscles you didn’t even know existed are aching, and the last thing you want to think about is more exercise, and you’re ready for après-ski fun, it is worth it to just spend 15-20minutes just stretching out. Muscles such as the glutes and quads are usually strengthened and shortened during snowboarding and can become over-developed, which in turn can tighten and shorten the hamstrings. The same applies for the hip flexors and the lower back so counteract this with some gentle, relaxed yoga postures so that you’re ready to hit the town and the mountain again tomorrow!

Start with Equestrian Lunge 8 relaxed deep breaths (fig 20), and change legs. This stretches out the hip flexors and quads. Perhaps you’ll need to put a blanket or towel under your back knee for more comfort.

Put a cushion or a block right against a clear wall space and then get up close to the wall and put your knee on the cushion/block, with your shin against the wall. This is quite a deep Quad stretch so take your time and take 8 deep breaths here. If you have the flexibility, you can raise your arms to the wall. Repeat for the left quad. (Fig 21 )

Figure 20 Click to view full image Figure 21 Click to view full image

Come away from the wall and Come into Half Splits, to stretch the Hamstring. Keep the hips quarea nd the spine straight as your forward bend over the right leg. Flex the toes towards you to ensure that your right quad and calf is engaged and the knee protected. 8 Deep Breaths. (fig 22). Then Come into Gate Pose, spin to your right and raise your arms up overhead and reach out to your straight right Leg, Tail bone tucked, core activated. 5 Deep Breaths. (Fig 23). Repeat for the left leg.

Figure 22 Click to view full image Figure 23 Click to view full image Figure 24 Click to view full image

Enjoy 8 deep breaths in this hip opening, bounded angle pose (fig 24). Soles of the feet together, relax your groin, inner thigh and hips.

Take your right leg out straight in front of you, and Inhale reach up with your arms, Exhale forward bend over the right leg. Head-to-Knee Pose (fig 25), and maintain for 8 deep breaths. Ensure that you bend forward from the hips and keep the spine long. Then Bring the arms to the inside of the right leg and turn o face up, to stretch the side body too. This is Head-to-knee pose version 2. Take another 8 deep relaxed breaths (fig 26) Repeat fig 25 and 26 also for the left leg.

Recline back and hug both knees into the chest, you can rock side to side to massage out the lower back (fig 27). Then stretch out the hamstrings one leg at a time, pulling the leg in straight, keep the other leg flat on the floor. 8 Deep breaths. (fig 28)
Fig 24

Figure 25 Click to view full image Figure 26 Click to view full image Figure 27 Click to view full image Figure 28 Click to view full image Click to view full image

Hug the right knee into the chest, take it with the left hand only, as your right arm goes out to the right shoulder height and then as you EXHALE roll the right knee over to the left, letting gravity do the work here. 5 Deep Breaths. Then Twist with the left knee hugged in.

Click to view full image

Come into final relaxation. Feet apart, arms comfortably away from the body, palms face up, chin away from the chest. Take 3 full deep breaths, counts of 10 inhaling and counts of 10 exhaling. And fully relax here for about 5 minutes, keep drawing your attention to your breath and how the body feels.

Well done, that is the warm down done!

Tammy Jones has practiced and loved both yoga and snowboarding for 14 years. She teaches public and 1-2-1 Yoga sessions in London and also runs Yoga and Activity Retreats. www.canuyoga.com
Back to the Features homepage
Comments (299)  
  Page: 1 of 20   Next  
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
 rakngurusi (13/11/2014 @ 03:02)
Try www.snowboarding.com for the best information on snowboarding event and best holiday deals.
  Page: 1 of 20   Next  
Would you like to comment?
Join GONEboarding.co.uk for a free account, or log-in if you're already a member.
Get our Newsletter
Your E-mail Address
More Details
Find us on Facebook
© 2001-2017 GONEboarding.co.uk