Even if at first glance yoga and snowboarding seem completely different from each other, the two disciplines are singularly complementary. Snowboarding is a very dynamic sport requiring a lot of vigor and endurance, while yoga is ideal not only for becoming more flexible but also for strengthening, in recovery... In short, it's an essential tool!
Pure snowboarder and passionate yoga teacher, I will explain how to combine yoga and snowboarding to get the most out of it.
What I like most about yoga is this incredible feeling of well-being that I feel after each session. This kind of practice that gives you a smile and makes you feel simply good, in perfect harmony with yourself.
Why is yoga good for snowboarders?
Yoga is generally perfect for snowboarding, from strength to recovery. On the one hand, the physical aspects of yoga make you stronger and more flexible. On the other hand, the mental aspects of the exercises help to focus and calm down. Yoga means "union", so it can be seen as a connection between you and your board.
Also, as snowboarders, we tend to have tight leg muscles and a blocked chest. Yoga can help us open up the entire front of the body while strengthening the muscles needed to snowboard.
What do I need to do yoga at home?
All you need is a mat, and you're good to go! If you want to develop your abilities, you will eventually need blocks or a strap. If you don't have any available, you can use books as blocks and a towel as a strap. Very simple, as you can see.
How can I develop my snowboarding skills with yoga?
Yoga can help you on two levels:
Imagine that you want to learn a new figure, you must first represent it mentally: How should I do this figure? What's the best way to try it out? How do I manage the landing? Then you have to train, train and train again - first in the dry and then in the snow. The trick probably won't work the first time, but you have to try it over and over again until you've mastered it. This process is found in yoga. First you work on your mental strength, then on your physical abilities, then you try to perform a new posture.
Yoga has really helped me recover faster from my injuries. Yoga also helps me stay calm and stay in control in stressful situations, such as at the start of competitions for example.
How can yoga help during the rest phase after snowboarding?
Rest is one of the most important phases after a hard day. If you want to snowboard seven days a week, you absolutely have to give your body time to recover. Yoga is ideal for promoting the recovery process of your body. Yin yoga, or Restorative yoga are particularly suitable for recovery. Even if you only have 10 minutes, you can use them to breathe deeply and open your hips, chest, and calves.
My three essential yoga poses for Snowboarders:
Virasana is a "basic" asana that can be used to stretch a lot of area. I love this variation where you just sit on the heel. After a day with your foot locked in the boots, you should feel it!
Get on all fours on the mat, knees placed on the floor, feet untucked.
Raise one of the two feet, to place the top of it in the arch of the other foot which remains on the ground.
All you have to do is gently come and sit down, placing the heel of the highest foot between your buttocks. WARNING ! If this is your first time trying this asana, take it easy ! You may be surprised at the intensity of a simple crossing of the feet...
Take a few deep breaths. If you feel like you can go a little further, feel free to put a little more pressure on top of the feet. But again, very gently, there is no point in forcing!
This variation of Anjaneyasana is one of my favorite postures. It is perfect after a day on the board since it targets quite a few areas of the body, such as the hip flexors, the quadriceps, but also the chest, the spine. In addition, there are thousands of variants, so impossible to lace up!
Here, we start in Anjaneyasana - as shown in the first photo. We simply place one foot between the hands, the back knee on the ground. This posture in itself is already a great asana for snowboarders! So you can stay here for a few breaths before going any further.
If you want to go further, we place it opposite the foot that is between the hands (example: here in the photo I put my left hand at the height of my right foot).
On inspiration, I will open my arm which is not on the ground (so here my right arm), to twist. On the exhale, I will bend my back leg (my left leg), in order to bring my foot closer to the hand that is aiming towards the back of my mat. If you want to work a little, you can just stay here. If you want to stretch instead, continue.
1st variation: If it's accessible for you, catch the foot of my bent leg with the hand that aims towards the back of the mat. If it's not accessible, you can use a strap, a belt, a towel... Take a deep breath here, slightly pulling the foot in the hand to open the chest. Keep a slight engagement at the center, to protect the lower back. Personally, I like to shift the front foot and open it slightly to the side. It allows me to look a little further in the posture.
2nd variation: for this last variation, I keep the foot in the hand - or in the strap/belt/... - but this time, rather than trying to open the chest, I will on the contrary try to align the two shoulders in front of my mat. I pull the seat bones skyward, I try to bring the foot that is in the hand closer to the buttocks. I can stay on the hand that is on the ground, raise myself on blocks/bricks, or - as I do in the photo - go down on my forearm. WARNING! Always make sure to lengthen the spine in this variation. Don't let your back round so you can go closer to the ground, you won't win any races here 😉
When I only have 5 minutes, this is THE posture that I will take the time to do. This posture has so many benefits: improves circulation, helps relaxation, it will help relieve lower back pain, it can also help with headaches, for PMS, and so many other things...
For this posture again, there are thousands of variations. For the sake of this article, I show you a photo where I am on a block in the center of my mat. I recommend that you put yourself against a wall instead, for more relaxation.
Get your props ready: Place a blanket or yoga mat on the floor next to the wall, and use a thin pillow for your head if needed.
Get into position: Lie down on the blanket or mat with your buttocks up against the wall. Your tailbone should stay on the ground, your buttocks a few inches from the wall.
The backs of your legs should rest against the wall, your knees relaxed and your feet parallel to the floor below. You should feel a slight stretch in your legs, but it shouldn't be painful.
Relax and breathe deeply as you hold the pose. Personally, I stay between 5 and 10 minutes - sometimes more 😅 - in Viparita Karani.
Take the time to get out of this posture, do not get up too quickly! Imagine getting out of bed in the morning and your body needs time to recover from this sweet moment...
Ready for your first yoga session ?
As you can see, yoga is anything but boring and can definitely help you improve your snowboarding performance, find your inner balance and recover faster after an exhausting day. And the best part is that you can practice it comfortably at home, you just need a mat!
So you can get started now, here's an hour of yoga, created in partnership with Burton Snowboard. So what are you waiting for? Take your mat and practice on!
✨ CHLOÉ ✨