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Yoga for the Slopes

Stay limber and healthy this season with stretches and mobility exercises

Skiing and snowboarding are full-body activities—to get down the slopes, whether at a resort or in the backcountry, you can use everything from the tiny muscles in your feet to the meaty muscles in your back.

To avoid injury and continue shredding slopes all season, incorporate these warm-up and cool-down routines (designed by a yoga instructor with more than 400 hours of training). You can do these exercises wherever space allows.

Some pro tips to get started:

  • Don’t stretch cold muscles, you’ll risk straining or tearing your muscles and/or tendons. Start with slow movements and build from there.

  • Consistency in a yoga/mobility practice is key; doing small amounts of mobility work and stretching on a daily basis adds up exponentially over time.

Warm up exercises

Wake up your body and/or begin your slope sessions with these movements and stretches.

Knee, hip, and torso circles

Loosen up your knees, hips, and back with dynamic, circular movements that start slow and small, then grow larger and faster over time.

Knees: stand with your feet together, bend at your hips, and place your hands on your knees; move your knees in clockwise circles for 30 seconds, then counterclockwise for 30 seconds.

Hips: stand with your feet hips-width distance apart, place your hands on your hips; move your hips clockwise for 30 seconds, counterclockwise for 30 seconds.

Torso: keep your feet hips-width distance and your hands on your hips; start by lowering your shoulders toward the right, stopping at height of your right hip; with your torso parallel to the ground, sweep your shoulders to the left side, and peel back up to standing, leading up with your right shoulder; complete this circling five times to the right, then five times to the left.

Leg kicks

Get your hip flexors ready by swinging your legs forward and backward, then side to side. Start by shifting your weight to your left leg, then swing your right leg forward and back, making the kicks larger and higher with each go, for 30 seconds. Then bring your right leg back to center, activate your inner thigh and glutes, and lift your leg out to the side, again starting small and growing larger with each movement.

Cat-Dog lunges

Prepare your spine and breath-body connection with this dynamic yoga movement. From a low-lunge position (one foot forward, the other back, feet hips-width distance apart), inhale to lift your chest and lower your hips; exhale to round your spine, lift your hips and lower your head. Move as such with your breath, for at least one minute.

Cool down stretches

The fun doesn’t stop when you get home; start your recovery right with these poses.

Wide-legged forward fold

Stretch your hamstrings, low back, and hip adductors with this pose; set your feet wider than your hips, slightly bend your knees to avoid straining tendons, and lean forward at the hips. Experiment with extending your spine forward and down. Stay here for one minute.

Figure 4 pose

Attend to your IT band and glutes with this stretch. Bend your right knee, flex your right foot, cross your right ankle over your left thigh. You can do this pose seated or standing. Standing: lower your hips back and down, like you were about to sit in a chair, to find the level of stretch appropriate for your body. Seated: move your left foot closer and further away from your glutes to vary the stretch’s depth. Then switch sides, spending at least 30 seconds with each leg.

Thread the needle

Loosen your mid- and upper-spine; from a table-top shape (knees on the ground directly under your hips; palms on the ground directly under your shoulders) thread your right arm underneath your left armpit; place your right shoulder and ear on the ground, feeling the twist begin at your mid-spine. Keep your hips parallel to the earth and gently peel your left shoulder back, so your heart stays open.

Emma Athena is an award-winning journalist and fresh-air lover. She writes about adventure and the environment, where humans and nature intersect at their most impactful moments. When she’s not glued to her keyboard or curled up with a book, she’s running in the mountains with her dog or camping with people she loves. To read more of her work and get in contact, visit


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