Swooshing down the slopes requires dexterity, balance, strength and stamina. As with most sports, some muscles — like the quadriceps — are called upon more than others. This puts you at risk for imbalances in the body and potential injury. This five-pose, apres-ski yoga session stretches the hips, hamstrings and back, which tighten up after a day on the slopes.
Hold each pose for 5–10 breaths to elongate and loosen the muscles you just worked.
1. DOWN DOG
Down dog, which looks like the post-nap pose pups take, stretches and strengthens the back, calves, shoulders and hamstrings.
The Move: Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Slide your palms forward so they rest forward of your shoulders and tuck your toes under. As you exhale, press your palms into the ground and lift your knees off the ground, working to straighten the arms and legs. Your body will form a wide, upside-down V shape.
Bonus: To deepen the stretch into your Achilles tendons and soleus muscles, pedal the feet by bending one knee and then the other, shifting the weight from heel to heel.
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A gentle backbend can help bring you back into alignment after hinging forward when you ski all day. Bridge stretches the front of the body, strengthens the hamstrings and rejuvenates the legs.
The Move: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with the ankles under the knees. Your feet should be hip-width apart and parallel so that all 10 toes point in the same direction. Arms rest on the floor by your sides, palms down. As you inhale, press into the backs of the arms and the feet, tilt the pelvis up and lift your hips up until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. After 5–10 breaths, exhale and slowly roll down vertebra by vertebra.
3. RECLINING PIGEON
Flexible hips help with balance and shredding sharp, clean turns in the slopes. Supine pigeon stretches the hip flexors, glutes, piriformis and groin muscles for a flexibility and a recovery boost.
The Move: Lie on your back and make an L shape with your legs so that your knees are over your hips and your feet are even with your knees. Cross your right foot over your left thigh, just above your knee. Hold onto the back of your left thigh, and gently pull both legs toward you. Flex both feet, and keep your left foot at knee height or higher. Hold for 5–10 breaths, and switch sides.
4. RECLINING BIG TOE POSE
Skiers and snowboarders use their quads a lot. This can lead to tight hamstrings, which can put extra strain on the knees. This pose stretches and lengthens the hamstrings, calves and IT bands.
The Move: Lie on your back with feet on the floor, knees bent. Hug your right knee into the chest, and loop a strap or towel around the ball of your right foot. As you inhale, start to straighten the right foot pressing the right heel toward the ceiling. Keep the shoulder blades on the floor, and gently walk your hands up the towel. To deepen the stretch, extend the left leg out straight on the floor. Take 5–10 breaths, and switch sides.
5. RECLINING TWIST
Twists increase flexibility in the spine and release the low back. This gentle twist is the perfect way to hit refresh after a long day on the slopes.
The Move: Lie on your back. As you inhale, draw both legs toward you, making an L shape with your legs so that your knees are in line with your hips and your ankles are in line with your knees. As you exhale, drop your legs to the left. Extend both arms out in a T position and look toward the sky or deepen the twist and turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Hold the twist for 5–10 breaths. Then as you inhale, draw your legs back to center. On your next exhale, lower your legs to the right and repeat the twist on the other side.