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  • 5 Yoga Poses for Skiers with Gwen Lawrence

    After a long day on the mountain, pass on that sought-after hot toddy or libation of choice and try yoga.

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    In any sport, it's essential to be proactive when it comes to injury prevention. In skiing, this means...

    • Cultivating strong legs to endure long, challenging slopes.
    • Building exceptional back and abdominal strength to maintain perfect form for maximum control.
    • Finding more openness and flexibility in the hips to protect the knees and better manage falls and unstable surfaces.
    • Observing and combating muscular imbalances to support a smooth, graceful run down the mountain.

    Yoga helps to achieve all of this. 5 yoga poses, in particular, work wonders to bring your body into a state of equilibrium, so you can ward off injury and tackle the slopes for years to come. Join YogaVibes teacher, Gwen Lawrence, for a free online yoga demo designed to help you complement and counter the swift, high-energy movements on the mountain.

    1. Chair Pose: This pose is the ultimate leg-strengthener and develops the form needed to maneuver through even the toughest of runs. Chair pose also serves to reinforce spinal strength and proper alignment. Gwen’s Direction: Try chair pose holds for 10 breaths. To counter, hold a standing forward bend. Repeat the sequence 3 to 5 times.
    2. Bow Pose: After holding perfect form and keeping that precise angle at the hip joint, you must tend to the hip flexors. If not addressed, tight hip flexors can wreak havoc on the low back and compromise the alignment of your spine. Gwen’s Direction: Strike 3 bow poses for 30 seconds each. Breathe deep! Between each bow, enjoy 3 to 4 breaths in child's pose. Ahhh.
    3. Forearm Plank: Unlike its close relative, plank pose, forearm plank asks even more from your core and really digs deep into your abdominal strength while simultaneously challenging your spinal alignment and body positioning. Gwen's Direction: To be in prime slope shape, practice 3 one-minute holds, paying special mind to your alignment. No drooping of the mid-section!
    4. Chair Twist: Practicing the basic chair pose with a twist will stretch the obliques, facilitating subtle changes in your core that will direct your skis. Stretching the obliques (the muscles along the ribs and side body) will enhance your ability to endure the aerobic element of skiing, improving your control and boosting your lung capacity. Added bonus: Extra quad work to enhance leg strength! Gwen’s Direction: Hold chair twists 30 seconds on each side for 2 to 3 sets.
    5. Rock & Rolls: Before you hit the slopes, try these movements to shed light on where your balance is at. Gwen’s Direction: Lying on your back, bring your knees into your chest. Hold the legs behind your thighs and close your eyes. Do not peek or you will wreck your analysis! Inhale and exhale deeply and rock and roll 6 to 7 times. On the 7th rep, stop in the seated position and open your eyes. See where you are. You may be quite surprised to find yourself facing the opposite direction or on your neighbor's yoga mat! Whatever your imbalances end up being, you'll be astounded by the outcome of this little trick. Trick Analysis:
      • If you pull or turn right, your right hip or low back may be tight and require work (or vice versa).
      • If you inch toward the front of your mat, you may require extra deep hip flexor stretching. Tight hip flexors may cause lumbar hyperlordosis or "swayback" - a condition that occurs when the lumbar region is regularly stressed.
      • If you traveled over to the right of your mat, but are still facing forward, consider upper back and shoulder work (and vice versa).

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    If you want to keep tearin' up that powder, follow the wisdom of Gwen Lawrence and settle into these poses before and after you tackle the slopes.

    Gwen Lawrence is the founder of Power Yoga for Sports and works with athletes in professional basketball, football, baseball, hockey, and soccer, Olympians, and college athletes.

    Image courtesy of Gwen Lawrence 

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