Work It Out: Yoga for skiers and boarders

Pinna Gallant
Special to the Daily
Warrior 3 pose.
Phil Lindeman / |

Ski yoga with X Gamer Leslie Glenn

Yoga conditioning doesn’t end at home. In early December, X Games athlete and yoga instructor Leslie Glenn leads two workshops for skiers and snowboarders at Peak Yoga Studio in Dillon. Here are the basics.

Dec. 6 — Strength, safety and injury prevention. 3-4:30 p.m.

Dec. 13 — Relaxation, tension release and pain reduction. 3-4:30 p.m.

Both workshops include a 30-minute session on the benefits of yoga for winter sports athletes, followed by a 60-minute yoga session with a breakdown of three or four poses. Space is limited and pre-registration is highly suggested. To register online, see the events section at

You’ve scoured the local shops for early-season deals, you’ve tuned and waxed your skis or board, you’ve adjusted your bindings and renewed your pass(es). All that’s left now is to get your body in shape.

This month, we’ll focus on how to build up your body for alpine skiing and snowboarding (restoration is coming next month) with input from Breckenridge local Leslie Glenn, winner of the Aspen/Snowmass Open and an X Games athlete, snowboard coach and yoga instructor.

A snowboarder since 1993, she traveled and competed professionally worldwide for over 10 years. After finding yoga as a freshman at the University of Vermont in 1999, she discoverd it to be a strong compliment to snowboarding.

“In my experience, yoga can be a powerful tool to create balance, strength, stability and focus on the mountain,” said Glenn, who is leading two workshops for skiers and snowboarders at Peak Yoga this December. “Yoga provided me physical and mental balance to compete at my best.”

What postures does she suggest for skiers and boarders? Although many yoga postures could be beneficial for skiing/snowboarding, she and I agreed on the following four as key postures for getting ready for winter:

Chair pose

Chair pose strengthens thighs, hips and glutes — all essential on the slopes — while also working the core and promoting proper knee alignment. While in this pose, think about practicing proper skier’s posture: Press down evenly into your feet, shift your hips back and down, and push your shins forward, all the while using your core to remain stable.

Stand with feet at hip width and arms next to your ears.

Bend your knees and lower your hips to sit into an imaginary chair. Press firmly into the front and the back of both feet.

Fire your thighs and glutes and lift the chest. Pull your low belly in and sit deeper into the pose.

Hold for five breaths.

For an added challenge, shift weight into the balls of your feet, lift your heels and hold for five more breaths.

Crescent lunge

Crescent lunge simultaneously stretches hip flexors while toning the legs and core. In addition, this pose also improves coordination by requiring you to center your weight with your back heel lifted off the floor.

Stand with feet at hip width apart.

Take a big step back with your right foot, keeping the right heel lifted over the ball of the right foot.

Bring arms overhead and bend your front knee until it is directly over the ankle.

Gently square the hips forward, lengthen the tailbone down and draw the lower belly up.

Find a focal point for balance and hold for 10 breaths. Switch sides.

Warrior 3

Out of the four postures here, Warrior 3 is at the top of Leslie’s must-do list.

“Warrior 3 is my favorite of the bunch because it incorporates all of the principles of balance, strength, stability and focus,” she said. “Balancing on one foot, you work all the stability muscles of the leg and core, too, which are so important for joint stability and injury prevention.”

Try this version of Warrior 3, using a wall to help with balance.

Facing a wall, place your hands at hip level on the wall. Hands should be shoulder width apart.

Walk your feet back until your body forms a right angle, with hips directly over feet.

Plant your knuckles firmly into the wall, pointing the middle finger toward the ceiling. Keep your ears in line with your biceps.

Lift the right leg parallel to the floor and flex the right foot.

Drop your right hip down to be in line with the left. Take your time — this can be difficult with tight hips.

Hold for five breaths. Switch sides.

Forearm plank

A strong core is of paramount importance to Leslie.

“The core is our main stabilizer, and strengthening the core allows us to increase our power and stamina for skiing or snowboarding,” she said. Try forearm plank to tone the core, enhance stability and increase strength.

Kneel on the floor. Place your forearms on the floor in front of you, parallel to each other with palms facing down.

Ensure that your elbows are directly under your shoulders and palms are directly in front of your elbows.

Step your feet back one at a time until your knees are straight and you are in a push-up position on your forearms.

Pull your naval to your spine and press your heels back. You want to create a straight line from the heels to the hips to the head.

Rooted firmly into the floor with your forearms, lift the back of the heart and broaden your shoulder blades.

Fire up your core, engaging your abdominal muscles as you lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

This article originally published on in December 2015. It appeared in the 2018 Explore Summit spring magazine.

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