When you dance through a colourful sea of leaves on your walk and looking up the first snow greets you from the Sonntagskogel, you know autumn, in all its beauty, has arrived in St. Johann. From hiking on a sunny day to cuddling up in chilly weather, no other season is quite so varied. Snow on the mountains creeps further down the valley and the anticipation of soon being able to whizz down the slopes and powder through deep snow very soon is almost too much to bear.
To while away the time whilst waiting for winter, I’ll show you a few yoga exercises to prepare you perfectly for your (sporty) winter season. You can do the exercises with or without ski boots, as you wish.
Yoga strengthens your muscles and increases your flexibility and balance. You also stimulate your circulation, so that your heart is warm even at frosty, sub-zero temperatures. Your mind is calmed with conscious and mindful yoga practice and your concentration and your focus are boosted. Protection from injury made easy.
Best of all, you can practise these Asanas – yoga exercises – as preparation for the season as well as for warming up before skiing or snowboarding. And you can also cut short waiting times at the ski lifts too with them.
So, let’s get cracking – have fun doing the exercises!
Utkatasana – Chair Pose
For speedy turns on the slope you require powerful upper thigh and calf muscles. The Chair Pose strengthens your legs as well as your back, stabilizes your knees and boosts the flexibility of your ankles. Due to the stable stance, which challenges and stimulates your whole body, you’ll experience “grounding” as well as peace and tranquility.
Stand upright, feet hip-width apart, your back straight. Breathe in deeply and raise your arms, breathe out, bend your knees and tilt your pelvis backward – sit down on your invisible chair. Form a big U with your arms, so that it’ll easier to lower your shoulders. Pay attention to your feet (so your toes or heels don’t rise up), remain firmly on the ground and when you look downward you should always be able to see your toes and don’t let your knees fall too far forward. Let your breathing flow deeply and after a few breaths, try to squat even lower. When you’ve had enough, move slowly and with a straight back out of the exercise, relax your body and shake your legs.
Virabhadrasana I – Warrior Pose I
Starting position is Tadasana, the Mountain Pose, standing up straight. Step back to the right into a lunge position. The toes of your right foot are pulled back, your left foot firmly anchored on the ground. Bend your left leg (your left foot never wanders over your left ankle). Your right hip is pulled forward. Breathing in, raise your arms overhead, pulling your shoulders downwards, your gaze gently upwards. Keep this position for a few breaths, then change sides.
Virabhadrasana II – Warrior Pose II
Starting position is Tadasana. Take a big step back with your right foot and turn your leg 90° outwards, creating a line with your heel. Raise your arms so that they are parallel to the floor. Let your shoulders sink downwards, your hips turn to the side (make sure that your left knee doesn’t bend inwards), your gaze is forward, past your middle finger. Feel your powerful physical and inner stance in the Warrior Pose. After a few deep, powerful breaths, swap sides.
Virabhadrasana III – Warrior Pose III
The Warrior Pose III requires, in addition to stability, primarily balance. Your starting positiion is Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I; you can also start in Tadasana). For balancing exercises, first and foremost concentration is required. Concentrate completely on the present moment now. With the next inhalation, raise your arms above your head, your palms facing each other. Breathe out, raise your back leg up and lower your upper body and your arms forwards simultaneously. Tighten your stomach muscles in order to keep your balance. Let your breathing flow gently and go as far into the exercise as you can keep stable. If possible, raise your back leg, your upper body and your arms parallel to the floor, whilst feeling your standing leg firmly on the ground. After a few breaths release the pose gently and change sides. The Warrior Poses strengthen and stretch your body from head to toe. A combination of strengthening of leg, arm and core muscles, mobilisation of hip and stretching of upper thigh muscles. During the Virabhadrasana exercise ensure your shoulders and your jaw remain relaxed, keep a stable position and don’t tense up. Listen to your body during and after the exercises, feel your inner and outer power and strengthen them with every breath.
Last but not least – the Relaxation
After your yoga session relax in Savasana (lying on your back) on your yoga mat or in a comfortable sitting position – e.g. on a chairlift 😉 Try to calm yourself and savour every breath. When you combine these four exercises flowing gently into each other, you’ll experience a powerful yoga flow. Listen to your body throughout each exercise and afterwards too. Which body parts do you feel intensively, which sensations are you aware of.
The most important thing when practising yoga – have fun, enjoy your time and Ahimsa, take care of your body and only go as far as it feels pleasant for you.
I look forward to seeing a few yoga positions on the slopes in St. Johann 😉
Photo credits: Carina Breitfuß