If you've ever spent time on the slopes, you'll know that a long day of skiing or snowboarding can put a huge demand on your body. If you're a weekend warrior, the unfamiliar combination of frequent turning and the constant degree of pressure exerted on your legs can leave you feeling really out of balance by the time you're ready to call it a day.
Thankfully, yoga-based stretching can help to counteract many of the muscular imbalances that arise when you spend time on the slopes. The next time you hit the mountain, take five or 10 minutes at the end of the day to go through the following sequence of stretches and watch the tension melt away.
1. The Crescent Lunge
Come to a full standing position. Step your right leg backward four to five feet and take your right knee to the ground. Your left leg should be bent with your knee stacked directly above your left ankle. Rest your hands on the knee of the front leg and allow your hips to gently descend toward the ground. To deepen the stretch, stretch softly backward through the toes of your left foot, let your hips drop closer to the floor, and take a slight backbend until you feel more stretch in the front of the right thigh.
Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
2. The Lunging Half Moon
After you've completed the crescent lunge on both sides, come back to the lunge by stepping your right leg backward from a standing position. Take your right knee to the floor. This time, reach both of your arms upward and over your head. Stretch the right hand side of your torso by grabbing your right wrist with your left hand. Lengthen upward, and then tip your torso to your left until your torso resembles the shape of a crescent moon. Use your left arm to pull the right arm long, and elongate everything from your right waist to the right wrist.
3. The Revolved Side Angle
Once you've finished the lunging half moon pose on the right side, come out of the side bend, rotate your torso to the left, and cross your right elbow over the outside of your left leg. Join your hands together in a prayer position, slide your hands backward toward your belt until your wrists align with your elbows, and press your hands together to twist your spine. Hold for five slow breaths, and then repeat the lunging half moon and the revolved side angle on the other side.
4. The Russian Twist
Come to a standing position and heel-toe your feet apart until they are separated by around four to five feet. Turn your toes slightly outward about 25 degrees, bend both of your knees and place your hands on your kneecaps. Keep your spinal column long and straight and lean forward until your torso is parallel to the earth.
Once you have found your way to the basic position, begin to stretch your inner thigh muscles by using your hands to press your knees apart. Rotate your torso to the right as you press, and protect your neck by looking straight down at the ground. If you wish to stretch even deeper, attempt to straighten your left arm as you push solidly down through the right hand to get more rotation in the twist.
Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the second side.
5. The Wide Legged Forward-Fold
Once you've finished stretching your inner thigh muscles, place your hands on the floor, straighten your legs and turn your toes inward toward your face about 25 degrees. Lengthen your spine by lifting upward to your fingertips. Keep your legs as straight as possible and fold forward until you feel a comfortable degree of stretch across the backs of both legs.
To deepen the stretch, walk your hands backward until your fingertips align with your toes. Keeping all four corners of your feet rooted to the floor, rock just a little weight forward toward the balls of your feet until your hips stack directly above your ankles. Elongate outward through the top of your head, and if possible, rest the top of your head on the ground.
Hold for 30 seconds.
6. Standing Backbend
From the wide legged forward fold, lift to your fingertips and lengthen your spine. To stand up, simply take your hands to your waist, and stand up slowly. One you've gotten to vertical, place your hands on your lower back, lengthen upward out of your waist, and take a gentle standing backbend. Drive down through your feet, draw your elbows backward and together to broaden your chest, and gently press the bottom tips of your shoulder-blades upward and into your chest to deepen the stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds, come back to vertical and step your feet all the way together to release.
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