By: Cat Jenks, RIDGE Yoga Coach
RIDGE Mountain Academy trains well rounded athletes. We focus on training hard while building strength and technique. RIDGE prioritizes taking care of an athlete’s body through our Health and Nutrition programs and our Yoga for Athletes program. These programs allow each student athlete to reach their full potential in the mountains.
You might know the feeling of waking up before the sun rises and trudging through the dark so you can reach the top of a peak with enough time to turn around and ski down before the snow sits in the sunshine too long. If this scenario sounds familiar, then you also know the feeling of being so sore that walking to the kitchen to make coffee the following morning feels like the only thing your body can accomplish.
If you are an athlete who likes to push the limits in the mountains you know that taking care of your body in order to perform and enjoy your favorite hobbies takes a high priority. Whether yoga is a constant in your life or just a quick stretch before taking off into the woods it can help with injury prevention, shorten your recovery time, and improve your mindset.
Downward Facing Dog; the most common and well-known yoga pose should not be overlooked! When it is raining for the third day in a row on your backpacking trip and you can feel the water seeping through your sleeping bag, get out of your tent, throw on the poncho you bought at the gas station (because you forgot your raincoat, and yes, that is why it’s raining), put your hands in the mud and come into a downward dog pose.
From a high push up position send your hips up and back, making an upside down V with your body. Press into the base of your index finger, engage your core and your ears come between your biceps (head does not hang). Tailbone reaches towards the sky, legs straighten and heels begin to work their way towards the ground. Take a couple rounds of deep, full breaths.
Downward Facing Dog will begin to warm up your body for a day of high activity, stretch your hamstrings, and the slight inversion will improve blood circulation.
Twisting Forward Fold, is a wonderful posture to enter as a cool-down after a long bike ride or trail run. When you arrive back at your car and you are sipping on piping hot water from your Nalgene that has been baking in the sun all day, come into this easy stretch for your IT band.
Fold forward at your hips and place your right hand down on the ground in front of your face (you can always bring the ground closer to your hand by putting it on any object you can find). Inhale as your left hand reaches towards the sky, exhale and slowly bend your right knee as deep as possible. This should feel horrible and wonderful at the same time. Embrace it.
Legs up the Wall, is purely restorative pose for your body and mainly your feet! When you get home after a long day of ski touring and your feet are finally free from their ski boot dungeon, grab your favorite ski magazine and a pillow and snuggle up to a wall.
Sit with one hip pressed up against the wall and place your pillow behind your tailbone (also against the wall). Slide your legs up the wall as you transition to laying on your back with the pillow lifting up your hips. Open up your magazine (or check out @ridge_academy on instagram) and hang out. If you can, stay in this posture for 5-10 minutes. This will allow the blood to flow out of your feet helping reduce any swelling. Your hamstrings will also slowly open and stretch in this posture.