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Post-Ski Yoga: 12 Poses Perfect for Post-Ski Stretches

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After a great day of downhill, few things are more satisfying than kicking off your ski boots, dusting off the snow, and gathering friends to share hot drinks and fond memories.

Après-ski is a French term that translates to “after ski” and refers to any type of après-ski activity. Returning to the lodge for après ski is usually about warming up by the fire and easing your tired muscles. Adding yoga to your après-ski routine can help you recover faster and wake up refreshed for another great day on the slopes.

See also: Yoga to develop balance and strength for snow sports

Let’s start first with a review of the biomechanics involved in skiing. While skiing requires an overall level of strength and flexibility, the lower extremity muscles are targeted as the main movers. In downhill skiing, your body is essentially in the Utkatasana (flesh pose) position, with your elbows bent to allow you to grip the poles. The gluteus maximus, hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) and hip abductors (outer thigh muscles) work synergistically to keep the body stable and straight while allowing movement lateral direction. The quadriceps flex the hips, while the hamstrings flex the knees to allow a variable range of motion up and down to maintain buoyancy in your skiing stance. Finally, the calf muscles work to maintain an upright position while the feet are fixed in dorsiflexion in your ski boots.

See also: 5 Ways Skiing Made Me a Better Yogi

12 yoga postures to help you stretch after skiing

This après-ski yoga routine will have you carving those contours with grace and agility, bringing balance and mobility to the joints and muscles needed for one of your favorite winter activities.

(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Mountain Pose is a natural way to start your après-ski routine and stay grounded. Stand straight with your feet under your hips. Press down equally on both feet and relax your arms at your sides, elbows straight and palms facing forward. Feel free to close your eyes to strengthen your sense of balance. Spread your fingers apart and imagine that you are extending your fingertips slightly downward to stretch your biceps, counteracting the flexing of your elbows while skiing. Hold the position for five breathing cycles.

Ingrid Yang in a ply standing in front of a fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

Uttanasana stretches the backs of your legs, including the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. From Mountain Pose, dip forward onto your legs, keeping your knees slightly bent to relieve any tension in your lower back. Hold the position for three to five breaths.

Ingrid Yang in Down Dog in front of a fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)

Downward facing dog stretches your lower back, the back of your legs, and your calf muscles. Extending your arms also provides a stretch for your biceps, which counteracts the strain caused by bending your elbows when gripping ski poles. Stay here for three to five breaths.

Ingrid Yang in Up Dog in front of a fire
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

Upward Facing Dog is a chest opener, but the pose is also great for skiers because it stretches the tops of your feet and the front of your ankles, which are in a flexed position in your ski boots. It also reinforces a stretch for your elbows after a day of bent elbow positioning. Hold Upward Facing Dog for two to three breaths, then return to Downward Facing Dog.

Ingrid Yang in a crescent lunge in front of a fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Anjaneyasana (low lunge) to the right

Your hips are usually in a flexed position to some degree when skiing, which can strain your hip flexors. Low Lunge is a great way to stretch that tension. From downward-facing dog, step your right foot forward, bending your knee to align with your ankle and lower your left knee to the floor. Reach your arms up to the sky and straighten your elbows. Hold the position for three to five breaths. For an additional, deeper quadriceps stretch, reach toward your left ankle while bending your knee so that your left heel moves toward your butt.

Ingrid Yang in a pigeon pose in front of the fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (Pigeon) right

Pigeon Pose stretches the glutes and abductors (outer hips) – muscles that work hard to keep your skis parallel as you glide down the mountain. From Low Lunge, lower your hands to the mat, framing your front foot, then step that foot toward your left hand. Lower the right outside knee toward the mat and place a block or blanket under your right hip to level your pelvis. Stand straight across your torso to feel a left hip flexor stretch, or instead, curl your torso forward onto your right leg for a deeper right outer hip stretch. Stay here for five or more breaths, then slowly come back into Downward Facing Dog.

Ingrid Yang in a wide leg pleat in front of a fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Prasarita Padattonasana (wide leg forward bend)

The wide-legged forward bend stretches the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and hip adductors, which is quite effective for a pose. From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot forward and reach your hands to the left side of the mat so your legs straighten and your toes point toward the long edge of the mat. Inhale to lift your head and chest slightly as you extend your spine; as you exhale, bend forward. Hold here for three to five breaths.

Ingrid Yang in a crescent lunge in front of a fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Anjaneyasana (low lunge) left

From Wide-Legged Forward Bend, move your hands to the left and rotate your left foot to the back of the mat, framing the foot with your hands. Bend your left knee so that it aligns with your left ankle. Lower your right knee to the floor and stretch your arms upward as you did on the right side. Hold again for three to five breaths for maximum benefits. You have the option again of bending the right knee to catch the ankle and moving the foot towards the buttocks for a more intense quadriceps stretch (pictured).

Ingrid Yang in Pigeon in front of a fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (Pigeon) left

From Low Lunge, step your left foot forward to the right side of the mat and lower your left outside knee and hip to the mat. Place a block under your left hip to level your pelvis. Keep your torso straight to increase your right hip flexor stretch or lower your torso onto your left leg for a deeper left outer hip stretch. Hold for 5 breaths.

Ingrid Yang in Vishu's Couch in front of a fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Variation Anantasana (Vishnu’s Couch) with quadriceps stretch

From Pigeon, extend your left front leg back and lie on your stomach. Slowly roll over to your right side and cup the side of your head with your right hand, leaning on your right elbow. Bend your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your heel toward your butt for a quadriceps stretch. Hold for three to five breaths, then roll onto your stomach. Repeat on the left side.

Close up of Ingrid Yang's wrist stretch
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Wrist stretches

Wrist stretches are a simple yet wonderful way to relieve forearm pain. From a seated position, extend your arm straight out in front of you, palm facing you and fingers pointing down. Place your left palm on your right hand and press down on your right fingers again, feeling the sensation move from your inner right wrist to your forearm. This stretch also helps open up the elbow joints which remain almost perpetually in flexion as you dig your ski poles into the snow. Hold for two to three breaths, then switch sides.

Ingrid Yang savasana in front of the fireplace
(Photo: Bhadri Kubendran)

Savasana (corpse pose)

Any good yoga sequence, like any good day of skiing, should end with deep relaxation. Be sure to take time for Savasana to reach an optimal state of rest. You have earned this rewarding rest from all your time on the slopes. Stay in Savasana, covered with a warm blanket, for at least five minutes to complete your après-ski yoga routine.

See also: 8 yoga poses to stretch tight calves

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