Skiers can benefit greatly from a thoughtful yoga practice. Both yoga and skiing require balance, flexibility and concentration. There are many yoga poses that can help improve your skiing by strengthening and lengthening muscles while working on stability. Key muscles to target in your yoga practice are quadriceps, adductors, abductors, core and hip flexors as well as lengthening your quadriceps and hamstring.
Skiing can put a lot of pressure on your knees. Strong muscles around your knee are important to keep your knee safe. In order to have stable knees work on strengthening your quadriceps, and inner and outer thigh. Strengthening your legs with yoga will help you stabilize your knee, as well as work on balance.
Utkatasana /Chair Pose: Works many of the same muscles you utilize while skiing. As you lower into the pose engage your quadriceps, squeeze inner thighs together to strengthen the adductors and draw stomach in and up to engage your core and lengthen your spine.
Strong core muscles are important for balance. By bracing your core you help stabilize your upper body while allowing your lower body to move the skis independently of the upper body.
Virabhadrasana III / Warrior 3: Requires balance and stability of the lower body and core. Standing on one leg tests balance while strengthening the core, gluteus and leg muscles. Engage thigh and gluteus on standing leg so this pose can also stretch the hamstring of the standing leg. Think about engaging your stomach muscles and keeping hips squared off.
Hip flexibility and stability is important because the majority of the movement while skiing comes from your hips as you pivot and move laterally to turn on an edge. Hip stabilization and strength helps you handle forces you experience in different skiing conditions such as going over bumps, GS turns, and choppy snow. Hip stability helps you maintain balance and move your center of mass over the appropriate spot on your skis.
Utthita Parsvakonasana / Extended Side Angle: Increases strength in both front and back legs as you engage through the gluteus and quadriceps. Helps with mobility and flexibility in hips and inner thighs.
In order to help prevent injuries it is important to work on flexibility by stretching tighter muscles. While skiing your quadriceps and hamstrings are doing a lot of work. Maintaining flexibility is important.
Janu Sirsasana / Head to Knee Pose: By engaging the quadriceps as you stretch forward you will create a deeper stretch in your hamstrings. Activating the hamstrings on the bent knee and actively pressing the sole of your foot into the inner thigh activates the sartorius muscle along the inner thigh.
Having a consistent yoga practice year around will help you gear up for ski season and keep you strong, flexible and prepared though out the winter.