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Yoga + skiing = the perfect combination?

Skiing is the opposite of yoga. It’s exhilarating, fast-paced, at times scary, and - let’s be honest - can be pretty intense on the body. Yoga, on the other hand, is calming, meditative, and soothing for the joints.

I’ve always loved yoga - so much so that I decided to take up teaching it over a decade ago. My fondness for skiing has been harder to establish. It never came naturally to me when I first tried it in my early 30’s, and a lack of opportunity to practice made it seem scarier the more I thought about it in the intervening years.

From a purely physical perspective, skiing uses muscles throughout the lower body (such as the glutes, hamstrings, quads and lower back) for prolonged periods of time. Using and strengthening muscles means they are contracting, which can cause stiffness as well tiredness when they’re worked hard. Stiffness can decrease our range of movement and actually make skiing harder (as any skiing beginner will testify). In contrast, yoga can help to stretch out the muscles that skiing strengthens, allowing for greater ease of movement and helping to reduce physical injury on the mountain.

Balance, concentration, flexibility and strength are synonymous with yoga and are all essential for skiing too. Additional skills such as an ability to tune in to our body, an enhanced sense proprioception, calming the mind through breathing well, all improve our skiing technique too.

I was lucky enough to be invited to teach yoga on a ski trip recently. We practiced vinyasa flow each morning to invigorate the mind and warm up the body ahead of a day on the slopes. Towards the end of the day we used gentle hatha yoga to stretch out tired limbs and soothe the nervous system ahead of a restful nights sleep. Full disclosure: I had no intention of skiing on this trip, and saw myself catching up on reading time while the guests were skiing each day. But putting my yoga breathing to use I strapped on some boots, snapped on some skis…. and honestly it worked like a dream, even for a formerly reluctant skier like me.

It’s been wonderful to develop a new skill in my late 40’s, and I’m so glad that I moved beyond my comfort zone and gave skiing a try again. Put skiing and yoga together and you really do have a match made in snow-capped heaven.


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