Work It Out: Yoga for snowshoers
February 5, 2016
Snowshoeing is no walk in the park.
The popular pastime is easy to do, highly accessible and requires minimal equipment, which makes it an excellent way to get outside for a cardio workout in the middle of winter.
But it's still a demanding workout. Snowshoeing burns 400 to 1,000 calories per hour, depending on your intensity, and, if you've ever been before, you already know that it requires more leg mobility than hiking or running. You also know that moving over irregular, snow-covered terrain demands a ton from the stabilizing muscle groups through your hips and core.
Strengthening and conditioning your hips, glutes and low back will increase your range of motion and endurance. It can also help prevent strain or injury. Before heading out on the trail again, try these simple and straightforward yoga postures to get the most out of your snowshoeing.
Moving deep into the hip flexors and thighs, the low lunge pose increases your range of motion when snowshoeing, hiking, running or just walking up the stairs.
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Start on your hands and knees with your toes curled under.
Bring your right foot between your hands and stack your right knee over your ankle.
Lift your torso and bring your hands up to your right thigh.
Reach the left hipbone forward and pull your navel to your spine, letting your shoulders sink away from your ears.
Sink your hips down and forward.
Stay for five breaths.
Repeat with left foot forward.
Crescent lunge maintains the hip opening benefits of low lunge and adds strength building in the quadriceps and glutes. You'll also find that crescent lunge improves balance and develops core awareness.
Begin in low lunge with your left foot forward.
Place both hands on the floor and lift the back knee.
Ensure the front knee is directly over the front ankle.
Press down through all four corners of your front foot and "scissor" your inner thighs (back thigh reaches forward, front thigh reaches back).
Lift your torso and bring your arms overhead next to your ears with palms facing each other.
Engage your core, lifting low ribs away from your waist.
Hold for 5-10 breaths. Switch sides. For an additional challenge, untuck your back toes and press the top of your foot to the ground during the lunge.
A deep hip opener, cow-face pose is best practiced initially by sitting on a block or several folded towels to raise the hips. This will decrease the intensity of the posture. Make sure you can always breathe slowly through your nose when practicing yoga. If not, you're probably going too deep into poses and will benefit by making the posture more comfortable.
When sitting cross-legged, scoot your feet away from each other until you can stack your right knee on top of your left. (You may want to lean forward onto your knees to get them into one line, then sit back onto your block or folded towels. Your feet should be in about the same place on either side of your torso.)
Keep your feet active, pressing out through the balls of your feet with flexed toes.
Press your sitting bones down to the ground and inhale to lift and lengthen you spine.
You can stay here or fold forward by reaching your arms in front to rest your head near your knees.
Keep rooting your sitting bones down as you allow the front of your hips to soften.
Stay for 5-8 breaths. Switch sides.
Boat pose works the stabilizing muscles of the core and hip flexors. When in the pose, keep your chest lifted to the ceiling and avoid letting the low back sink to the floor. Building strength in boat pose will increase stability on snowy terrain.
Sit with your feet on the floor and knees bent.
Bring your hands behind your knees.
Lift the chest and lean back slightly without letting your back become rounded.
Maintaining your gaze on a focal point in front of you, lift your feet a few inches off the floor to engage your core and balance on the sit bones.
If your spine easily stays tall and your low back is comfortable:
Optionally lift your shins parallel to the floor.
Stretch your arms alongside your legs, keeping them parallel to each other and the floor.
Extend your legs diagonally up without rounding the low back to form a "V."
Stay 5-10 breaths.
To exit, take one final inhale and then exhale while lowering your feet softly to the ground.
Twists are an excellent way to refresh every muscle along the spine from the shoulders to the pelvis, including the abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet comfortably on the floor, facing the ceiling.
Open your arms like a "T" with the palms down.
Bring your knees into your chest and exhale, letting both knees fall to the right side. Try to keep both shoulders on the floor. Your knees can be in line with the hips, lower than the hips, or higher than the hips – find a place where you feel a gentle stretch without strain
Stay for 10 breaths.
Inhale knees back to center and exhale, letting both knees fall to the opposite side.
Stay for 10 breaths.
Inhale knees back to center and take a few breaths before coming off the floor.
Pinna Gallant is the owner of Peak Yoga, Dillon's only dedicated yoga studio. With breathtaking views of both Buffalo and Red Mountain, Peak Yoga challenges both the body and the mind. Classes build muscular strength, physical endurance and emotional resilience. It is recommended to consult with a physician before starting any new exercise regimen, including yoga.
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