Are you hitting the slopes regularly but feeling your progression is slow? Maybe you're losing motivation, or you're noticing some tight spots in the body, or maybe you just end the day feeling like you crashed into a tree (without any actual crashing). I know I've felt these Tahoe struggles, too many times. A couple years back I started doing a short yoga routine everyday (well..almost) before heading up the mountain. Seriously, even just a short 15 minute yoga routine (or stretching, like my boyfriend prefers to call it when he joins in -insert eye rolling emoji here-) makes a world of difference!
Although I am currently in the Bay Area prepping my sailboat for my next adventure (as you may notice the mountains are missing from my yoga pictures)-I have spent many winters in Tahoe and it will always be my #Tahome. Here I am going to share the basics of my favorite pre-snowboarding yoga sesh. I will lay out 8 poses to help wake up the spine, aid in core & hip flexor strength, add to balance and increase flexibility in the hamstrings, hips, & calves. Aside from all of this, a yoga practice will help with breathing, circulation, peace mind (which is great when you're racing down a slope right for a huge jump), and an appreciation for your body as well as nature as a whole. So let's get started!
Yogis of the Mountain
Starting on your hands and knees with wrists below your shoulders and hips above the knees, as you inhale, lift your chest (think of pulling your heart through your arms) and push your stomach towards the floor.
As you exhale, round the spine, push the floor away and gaze between the knees.
Tip: Don't rush through this mini-flow! Repeat 4 times with deep belly breaths.
You can come into this from cat cow by bringing your right leg forward. Wiggle your right toes until your right knee is aligned over your right ankle. Inhale and reach your arms up towards the sky.
Half Monkey Pose
As you exhale, place hands on either side of your front foot and walk your hands back as you straighten your front leg as much as you can (as long as you feel that hamstring stretch, bend that knee as much as you need to). Repeat with left leg in front.
Tip: Remember those deep belly breaths! Don't rush this little flow but try and repeat a few times as slow as your body and breath allow-you can even stay in either one for a few breaths if you feel. And if your back knee hurts, put a folded blanket underneath.
Calves & Spine
Feet hips distance apart, rotate your triceps back (away from the ears), feel your hips pulling up and back as your heart pulls towards your knees. Soften the neck, then go ahead and pedal out the feet (bending alternate knees like you would see a runner doing before a race-this is where you'll feel those calves).
Bring yourself to a seated position. Bend the left leg so that the heel moves towards the right sit bone then cross the right leg over the left; sole of the foot connecting with the ground. Inhale reaching the arms up and as you exhale, place the right hand on the ground directly behind the tailbone while the left elbow comes to the outside of the right knee with a 90 degree angle (if this is too much just hug the right knee with your left arm). This pose is great if you're practing 180s or spins. Repeat on other side.
Hamstrings & Core Strength
Seated Forward Fold
From your twist, straighten both legs out in front of you. As you inhale, reach your arms up then exhale as you fold toward. Grab wherever you can reach (does not have to be the feet!) and bend the knees as much as needed (you can even bend into alternate knees if that feels good to you).
This one is hard if you're lacking in the hamstring flexibility or core strength departments. So I will give the steps to get here but take any of those variations that works for you. From your forward fold, come back to a straight spine and bend the knees with the soles of the feet on the ground. Slowly start to lower your upper body down with arms parallel to the earth. When it starts getting hard-hold it there. You can stay here or lift the feet off the ground with knees bent at 90 degrees. Stay here or slowly straighten the legs. The core strength helps when lifting the legs for jumps, ect.