Breckenridge is a winter wonderland, known for world-class skiing and off-piste adventures. Ski season and the physical demands of a day on the mountain can be taxing until we settle into our winter groove. Below are our favorite postures to tone and strengthen the physical body so we are ready for opening day.
Utkatasana: Chair Pose
In downhill turns, the weight is distributed slightly forward over the arches of the feet at the start of the turn and slowly shifts to the back of the arch as you finish the turn. Utkatasana imitates that movement. The slightly crouched posture, powerful core, and strong legs of Utkatasana are what allow you to make these subtle weight shifts.
From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with your feet hip-width apart, raise your arms in front of you to the height of your shoulders, parallel to the floor, palms facing inward. Bend your knees and lower your torso as if to sit in a chair. Draw your navel in toward your spine as you lower your sacrum and tailbone down toward the floor, tucking your tailbone under slightly. Reach forward through your fingertips and, at the same time, draw your shoulder blades toward each other and down your back. Continue to lower until your thighs are as nearly parallel to the floor. Lift your torso as you press into your heels. Hold with steady breath for 10-15 breathes, slowly straighten your legs, and come out of the pose allowing 8-10 breathes of recovery. Repeat 3 times ending in Tadasana.
Tones the leg muscles excellently. Strengthens hip flexors, ankles, calves, and back. Stretches chest and shoulders.
Adho Mukha Svasana: Downward-Facing Dog
Come onto all fours, with your shoulders over your wrists, your hips over your knees, and the knees 4 to 6 inches behind the hips. Curl your toes under and, as you exhale, lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling. Keep your knees slightly bent and heels off the floor at first. Give yourself a few moments to shift your body weight, bending into your knees, nodding your head, finding freedom and space in the posture. As you settle in, press the tops of your thighs back and, as you stretch the backs of your legs, press your heels down. Press firmly into the palms of your hands, keeping your upper back wide and your shoulder blades drawing down your back toward your pelvis. As you inhale, press into the palms of your hands and the balls of your feet. As you exhale, keep your core active as it supports you in the pose. Invite extension through the spine and side body as your arms and legs are actively engaged. Remain in the posture for 15-20 breathes.
Strengthens the ankles, core muscles, upper back, shoulders, and arms. Stretches the calves, hamstrings, and glutes.
Ashta Chandrasana: High Crescent Lunge
From standing with feet hip-width apart, step your right foot back behind you for a lunge, bending your left knee and stacking it directly on top of or slightly behind your left ankle. Keep your right heel stacked over the ball of your foot and pointing straight back (not allowing the heel to drop out or in). As you inhale, reach your arms up toward the sky, stacking your shoulders over your hips. Draw your belly in, and soften your shoulders away from your ears. If you find tension in the low back, hinge your arms forward toward a 45 degree angle to relieve pressure. Take 10 breathes in the pose. Then step your right foot forward to return to standing in Tadasana before switching sides.
Leg strength and stretches the hip flexors. Working to keep your balance in this posture will also help increase core strength.
Paripurna Navasana: Boat
The benefits: Core strength in both the front and backside of your body, essential for maintaining stability.
This posture strengthens the abdomen, psoas and hip flexors.
Begin by squatting with your feet mat width, feet paralle to the edges of the mat or feet working toward a 45 degree angle. Allow your heels to connect with the mat. Exhale and lean forward such that your torso fits between your thighs. Bring your palms to match in prayer and press your elbows against the inner thighs. Doing this will help you extend the front part of your torso. Hold the pose for 10 breathes.
Opens your hips and groin. Stretches your ankles, lower hamstrings, back and neck. Aids in digestion. Keeps your pelvic and hip joints healthy.