Little sequence to help re-centre, rebalance and soothe your body and mind after a day on the slopes. Whether you ski, snowboard or hike these stretches will target the muscle groups which are in need of some tlc.
The pictures and descriptions are a rough guide, so encourage yourself to vary how it looks in your own body by trying to find what feels good to you. Your breath should be your indicator; can you keep it smooth and steady in and out of the postures?
It’s all about discovering the balance between effort and ease. The important part is that you listen to your own body and seek out your level of comfort. If you feel pain in any of the positions release and find a place of relief. You can try again not going as far or feel free to skip any posture revisiting it another day. If you have current or previous injuries, then seek advice from a physiotherapist or your doctor.
Child’s pose | Balasana
This position works into the outer hip, inner thigh, low back and ankles. To activate your shoulders and back muscles keep the arms long, pressing your hands into the floor as you reach the fingers forward. Alternatively you can soften the elbows or relax the arms alongside the body to find a little more peace in the upper body. Wonderful for decreasing stress and fatigue, while re-establishing focus.
Begin on your hands and knees, allowing the knees to open wider than the hips, big toes may touch, or if it feels nicer, keep the knees pointing straight ahead in line with the ankles. Slowly start to drop the hips to your heels letting your hands walk forward as your chest softly sink to the floor, readjust the arms as required. Give yourself a moment to rest and reconnect, drawing your attention to your inhale and exhale, using this as your focus throughout. Pay attention to what you are feeling, acknowledging if this posture brings easy or if it requires effort. If the compression in the legs is too much allow yourself to rise up or use a rolled up towel/blanket behind the knees, under the ankles or for the forehead.
Thread the Needle | Urdhva Mukha Pasasana
An upper body stretch to relieve tension from the neck, shoulders and back. We often forget about the upper body when thinking about post snow stretching. However it works just as hard as the lower limbs, so opening up the shoulders and spine is really important to ensure our mobility can keep improving. It is also amazing for releasing that everyday tension we already carry here. This posture can progress our technique on the slopes as it facilitates rotational separation between the upper and lower body.
From hands and knees, stack your shoulders over your wrists, and hips above the knees. Feeding your right arm through the gap between your left hand and knee, settle onto your right shoulder and the side of your face. Your supporting arm can be used to explore deeper into the side body, serratus anterior and your obliques by walking the fingers forward until the arm is outstretched. Remember if your breathing feels restricted release to a point where it feels unhindered, have patience before moving deeper, trying to keep the hips stacked and your spine long, noticing where your weight wants to rest, trying to find space in the neck – use a support under the head and shoulder if the floor feels too far away.
Downward Facing Dog | Adho Mukha Svanasana
A super full body stretch to balance strength and flexibility in your body. It works on aligning and lengthening the spine while releasing tension from the legs and upper torso, it strengthens the wrists, arms, abdominals and lower body while activating the muscles in the hands, feet and ankles.
Starting on all fours in table top position, press your hands and feet into the floor, tuck your toes and begin to lift your hips, extending your arms and sending your sitting bones to the ceiling. Think about creating a mountain shape with the body imagine your tailbone is the peak as your limbs root you down. Allow the knees to bend, if it feels available you can start to work on lengthen the legs by gently enticing the heels to the floor. Once set up it can feel nice to pedal the knees and feet or simply settle into the stillness. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth can often aid in releasing tension. Concentrate on keeping the abdomen active and armpits hollow, equally distributing the weight through the right and left side, letting the head and neck relax between the biceps. If this position feels too much allow yourself to drop back to all fours, rest, reset and venture back into the posture.
Lizard lunge | Utthan Pristhasana
Beneficial for improving flexibility in cranky, overworked hips. This move gets into the major muscles of the lower body (quadricep, hamstrings, iliopsoas, glutes) involving both legs but generating different actions, building strength, stability and health in the inner and outer leg, just what we need to improve our on snow performance.
Stepping your right foot forward to the outside of your right wrist, allow your left knee to settle down onto the floor, taking extra padding underneath the left knee if needed. Take time to enter into this strong posture, readjusting the back leg or using support under the hands to raise the floor to you. Feel free to find some movement first, such as rocking back and forth.
If everything feels easy you might consider walking the back knee further away or lowering onto your forearms, a support can be useful to bridge any gap between you and the floor.
Regardless of your arm position focus on keeping the shoulders level and the weight even, practice lengthening the crown of the head forward, keeping the tailbone long. If you drop onto the forearms and it feels tough take a little longer on the hands, expanding your inhale and slowing your exhale, trying to let the body naturally open. You can then see if some space has developed to allow you to venture a little further, avoid forcing the body somewhere it’s not ready to go.
When coming out you can opt to swing your right leg back to find table top or you could lift the left leg from the floor and step your right foot back to downward dog, take a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side.
Easy Pose | Sukhasana
A moment to settle and reconnect to your breath, re-stacking the spine, strengthening the back muscles as you activate the core. Finding a stretch through the knees and ankles as you release the outer hip, groin and abductors. Improving posture, physical and mental balance.
From table top or down dog bring yourself to a comfortable seat legs crossed or extended out in front (Sukhasana/Dandasana) be sure to prop under the hips if your lower back is rounded or support under the outer thighs if the hips are tight and knees are high.
Take 3 deep breaths, settling with your hands resting on your legs. On your next inhale, reach your arms over head and as you exhale let fingers drop to the floor broadening through the chest. Repeat as many times as you’d like. When you are ready slowly let your body return to the floor into a reclined position.
Reclined pigeon or #4 | Supta Kapotasana
A great stretch for the hip flexors, gluteal muscles including the hard to reach piriformis. It helps work into tightness in the groin, psoas and IT band while improving mobility in the hip joint and relief in the lower back. There is activation of the abdomen aiding digestive efforts and improving blood flow to the back body.
On your back press all four corners of your torso downwards, bend both knees and connect the feet to the floor – heels in line with your bottom, toes pointing forward. Lifting the right leg, aiming to rest the outer ankle on the left thigh, allowing the right foot to flex, maintaining engagement in the ankle and knee. Check your pelvis is still square and both sides of your waist are long, with your tailbone lengthening forward. Staying here breathing into any tightness or using your hand to press the right inner thigh further forward to find a deeper stretch.
You can choose to incorporate the upper body by threading the arms through the legs to take hold of the back of the thigh or front of the shin. To delve deeper raise and straighten the free leg toward the ceiling, adding in the hamstring and calf by pressing into the heel. Remember to repeat on the other side.
Always try to maintain connection to the floor with the head, neck and shoulders. A support under the head can be helpful especially if the chin keeps lifting towards the ceiling. Avoid the temptation to rush this position taking time in each stage, only advancing when the body feels at ease and ready, returning to the previous step as necessary.
Reclined Spinal Twist | Supta Sucirandhrasana variation
A useful pose for energising the stabilising muscles of the core especially the obliques and rectus abdominus, while releasing the latissimus dorsi and pelvic muscles. Perfect for rebalancing and soothing the nervous system. You can explore the stretch across the front of the chest as you encourage both shoulder blades to connect to the floor and draw underneath you.
Pointing the knees towards the ceiling let the feet walk out wider than your hips, then let the knees drop to the side towards the floor, keeping the upper body open. Take at least 6 deep breaths before drawing your belly button to your spine and raising the knees back to centre, resetting in the middle, then sending the knees to the other side. If the legs are suspended or it feels too intense you can gently motion the knees side to side, increasing the range of movement and finding a pause now and again.
Final Rest | Shavasana
This position has so many benefits, some of which are improving concentration, calming the nervous system and aiding healing. Taking a moment to pause after any activity is really beneficial in helping establish a positive habit of allowing rest, and letting the mind and body regroup. This ensures we absorb what we’ve just done and lets us reflect on how it felt, what we observed and what we might change. It can give us a chance to set a mantra (a positive word or phrase that resonates) to carry us into our evening and through the next day.
Wrap up warm with a blanket and find a position that allows you to settle on the floor, using pillows/blankets to fill any gaps and help support your body. You don’t have to be on your back with your limbs extended, you can choose to be on your side or in another position that you can fully rest in. Let your breath come back to its natural rhythm, giving yourself permission to just be, focus on letting go a little bit more with every exhale. Try to stay for at least 10-20 breaths before bringing your awareness back, introducing some gradual movement into the body as you slowly make your way back to normality.
If you found challenges or have questions about any of the above please drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d be more than happy to discuss and offer suggestions to help you develop your practice.
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