The winter season turns Whistler, British Columbia into a dreamy snow globe. It’s also a time when skiers and snowboarders begin to feel the excitement of the slopes. As the mountain opens, many start to wonder, “How can I get myself ready?” Here are some techniques and poses from Emily Kane, owner of Yogacara yoga studio in Whistler Village, that will help prep your body to hit the slopes:
Ujjayi Breathing (a.k.a. Ocean’s Breath)
“From an eastern perspective, ujjayi breathing was used to oxygenate the blood and increase the body’s internal heat. The heat is the reason this is my favorite practice on the chairlift, especially on cold days! It’s also a great way to keep your focus on your breath. Finding a clear and calm mind on the mountain can be a game changer, especially during moments of fear or uncertainty.”
Ujjayi Breathing How-To:
- Sit comfortably with eyes closed.
- Take a deep inhale through your nose, exhale out of your mouth as if you’re fogging up a mirror.
- Try that a few more times.
- Close your lips but breathe with that same intention of fogging a mirror. Maintain a gentle constriction in the back of your throat so your inhale and exhale become slightly audible.
- Follow your breath for 5 – 10 minutes.
- This breath can also be combined with the following poses to help deepen your awareness of your breathing.
Chair Pose (a.k.a. Utkatasana)
“If you’re looking to build strength and endurance for the winter, look no further than chair pose. This intense posture will build heat while strengthening your thighs, calves, back, and arms in just 5 – 10 breaths. Those deep powder days will be smooth sailing if you practice chair pose regularly.”
Chair Pose How-To:
- Place your feet hip-distance apart or step them together (your choice). Notice where the weight is in your feet. Feel the subtle lift of the inner arches (or the sensation of lifting) with both balls of feet grounded. Keep your toes soft.
- As you bend your knees, sink your weight back into your heels.
- Keep your pelvis neutral.
- Raise your arms forward and up.
Balancing Asana (a.k.a. Poses), like Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
“Becoming agile, stable, and skilled on skis or a snowboard requires a certain amount of balance attained through proprioception. Proprioception is known as the awareness of where your body is in space, which can result in more finesse and control. For skiing and snowboarding, developing this feedback in your feet, ankles, and legs will naturally improve your skills on the mountain.”
Tree Pose How-To:
- Stand with your feet together, feeling the weight in both balls of your feet and back into your heel. Keep your toes relaxed.
- Shift your weight into your right foot; lift the heel on your left. Find steadiness and stability though your standing leg.
- Place your foot on the inside of your ankle, calf, or inner thigh (avoiding your knee joint). Find external rotation in your thigh (press your knee out to the side).
- Stay for 5 – 10 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
About the Expert
Emily Kane is a yoga teacher, snowboarder, nature lover, and fierce adventurer. She is the owner of Yogacara, a yoga studio and wellness center based in Whistler, British Columbia. When she’s not teaching classes, you’ll likely find her exploring the mountains, reading, writing, or travelling. Emily loves leading yoga teacher trainings from her home in Whistler and around the globe. For more info, visit www.emilykaneyoga.com.
About Yogacara Whistler
Yogacara is a yoga studio in the heart of Whistler Village. Students enjoy the benefits of small class sizes, an intention that puts people first. Build connection and community in a supportive space with skilled teachers. A peaceful home-away-from-home to find your bliss through yoga classes, workshops, yoga teacher training, reiki, therapeutic thai massage, and thai cupping therapy. For more info, visit www.whistleryogacara.com.