Managing your mental and emotional equilibrium can be tricky when Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose. To stay fit in winter, it’s time to pull out your trusty yoga mat, focus your mind, and think about the core. It’s time to focus not just on your mid-section core, but also the many aspects of the “core” and think of its synonyms, which includes “origin”, “root”, “substance”, “essence”, “foundation”, “heart” and “focus.”
When winter winds blow, returning to your roots can be just the thing to ward off disease, to keep your healthy energy flowing, and to ward off those nasty free radicals. Strengthening the core will help prevent injury by fortifying the psoas, abdominal organs and lumbar spine. Yoga poses specifically dedicated to strengthening the body include the Boat Pose, the Chair Pose, Downward Facing Dog, Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Handstand, Locust Pose, Noose Pose, Plank Pose, Revolved Side Angle Pose, Revolved Triangle Pose, Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose, Upward Plank Pose, and the three different Warrior Poses. All are recommended. The core group of muscles used for winter sports – the quads, glutes, abs, lats and traps – can all be strengthened with the following yoga poses:
The Boat Pose requires balancing on your tailbone, with your arms and legs extended. It helps tone the belly, massage the internal organs, strengthen the deep hip flexors muscles, while relieving lower back pain.
A nice spin on the standard Boat Pose, the Revolved Boat Pose helps with all of the above, as well as toughening the gluteus maximus and toning the calves and ankle muscles.
Inversion yoga is great for more than just seeing the world upside down. Raising the heart above the head ensures that the brain gets a nice and fresh supply of oxygenated blood. Physically, inversion yoga develops strength, balance and stability in an unnatural state. Although physically challenging, inversion yoga has proven to positively affect the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems. When completing a headstand, practitioners often feel clear headed, and who doesn’t love the sudden rush to the head of oxygenated blood that produces a natural high.
Inversion yoga poses strengthen the abdominal organs, while flushing out toxins due to increased blood flow, a helpful function when the holiday season rolls around and merrymaking abounds. What is even in a hot toddy or that yuletide favorite eggnog? Certainly few helpful antioxidants, we’re sure. The holiday season is probably one of the most gluttonous times and the one most needing of a flush once it’s passed (no pun intended). Other positive effects of inversion yoga include being a natural anti-depressant, a brain and immune booster, as well as a digestion aid.
The Eagle Handstand Pose strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves, as well as the thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back. It improves concentration and helps with balance.
A foundational yoga pose, Downward Dog strengthens the arms and legs, creates space in the torso for better organ function, and rests the brain. As both a stretching and strengthening asana, Downward Dog provides all of the advantages of the inversion poses, with a nice toning of the upper body and lower extremities thrown into the mix.
The Warrior Pose is named after the ferocious warrior Virabhadra, who purportedly symbolizes one’s inner ability to overcome ego and ignorance, two traits that must constantly be kept in check. The Warrior Pose increases flexibility in the hips, improves balance, tones and strengthens the legs, ankles and feet.
In the dead of winter, think beyond the corpse pose and practice poses that will help you make it through the season safe and sound. Yoga offers many benefits for winter sports fans; better strength, better balance and increased focus, which could come in handy when you’re strapped into a pair of skies or onto a snowboard that is jettisoning you down a mountain of freshly packed snow at thirty miles per hour. Following our yoga regiments, you’ll be healthy, focused and fit. Once in the ski lodge, you’ll be able to put your feet up and enjoy the fact that what you’re putting something on ice is a drink toasting the New Year rather than a battered and bruised body which drew chuckles of derision on the slopes.
Your Yoga regiment:
- Boat Pose
- Revolved Boat Pose
- Eagle Handstand Pose
- Downward Dog Pose
- Warrior Pose