If you live on the south west coast of BC like me, you're probably lamenting the early demise of our ski season (collective boooooo). Lucky for me, I spent last weekend in the interior with the blessed white stuff and after spending the weekend snowboarding, am feeling pretty darn sore. Whether you managed to only get a few runs in this season or you're living somewhere where you are fortunate enough to have some good powder, here are some of my go-to recovery poses.
1. Seated Hips to heels- tucked toes.
What to do: We'll keep it simple to start. Come on to your knees (shaggy faux fur carpet optional) and sit your hips to your heels. Tuck your toes and work to keep a tall spine as you take 8-10 breaths here. Be warned: the first few breaths feel like nothing. Eventually you'll feel a creeping sensation akin to a tingle and then a slow burn. Helloooo arches!
Why should I do this: After a full day of being cramped into stiff boots, this will bring some life back to your tootsies.
2. Child's pose
What to do: From your knees, slide your arms forwards and drop your chest to the ground. Press your hips further to your heels. (Optional) take your hands to prayer hands and bring the heel of your hands against the base of your skull to find more space along your shoulders. Stay here for 8-10 breaths or longer as you please.
Why should I do this: Child's pose is a go-to position of rest. It's also a great way to connect with your breath and chill out after a day full of adrenaline. In this variation, you'll find space in your upper back, along your underarms, as well as length in you lower back.
3. Downward Dog
What to do: From Child's pose, tuck your toes, stretch your hands long ahead of you again if you took the variation, and press back with your hips high. Focus on sliding your shoulders back and down and perking your tailbone up. Feel free to walk out the heels/ pedal the feet to ease into your hammies and calves. Note: heels do not have to touch the ground. 8-10 breaths or however long you like.
Why should I do this: Make the backs of your legs happy happy campers. Your hamstrings and calves will thank you.
4. Low Lunge
What to do: From downward dog, step your right foot between your hands. Reach your arms up overhead for one breath before letting them land, stacked, on top of your right thigh. Press actively into your hands as you lean back and send your hipbones forwards (think: thrust a la saturday night style). Shoulders stay stacked overtop of hips and chest lifted. In the picture, the back leg is at a slightly deeper angle. You can also dial it back and have both legs at 90 degrees. Stay for 8-10 breaths before switching sides.
Why should I do this: Hip flexors & quads will feel so so good after this.
5. Half Split
What to do: From low lunge, take your hands to the ground and press back until your hips are stacked overtop of your back leg at an approx 90 degree angle. Work to straighten and lengthen front leg. The kicker here is to bring your front foot to flatten on the ground. Squeeze shoulder blades together, push your tailbone back and work to draw belly to thigh. 8-10 breaths and switch sides.
Why should I do this: Again with the hammies and calves. The bonus here is a stretch for the top of the foot which will probably be feeling pretty tight from carving all day in stuffy boots.
6. Bound Side Angle
What to do: This one's a bit tricker but there are different levels to stop at. From downward facing dog, step your left foot between your hands. Spin your back foot to the side (so that front heel, were it to slide back, would intersect back foot's arch). You're going to come up for a moment into warrior 2 (front knee bent, arms out to the side).
Stop #1: Take your right arm around your lower back into a half bind. Take your left forearm to your thigh. Work on stacking shoulder overtop of shoulder.
Stop #2: Sweep left arm underneath left leg (arm slides along the left inner thigh before wrapping underneath) and look for right fingertips behind your back. Press your arms and torso back into your left leg as you scoop your tailbone under and drive hips forward. Lean back and keep collarbones wide. Think of pressing just as actively into your back foot as you are into your front fot.
Optional: As pictured, lengthen your neck diagonally back and to the side (as if you're trying to draw a line from your chin to the outside edge of your back foot.)
8 breaths before switching sides.
Why should I do this: So here's where I admit I'm no pro. I caught a few edges and had a few nasty wipe outs this weekend. Result? Whiplash. This pose allowed me to open up my shoulders (which were all hunched over from lack of confidence on the slopes.. hah) while stretching out the front of my neck safely.
7. Ninja Death Star Pose (Working title)
What to do: Note: If your knees aren't feeling too great, feel free to skip this pose. Even if your knees do feel great, make sure you have substantial padding around. Blankets, pillows, shaggy faux fur rugs and rolled up yoga mats are all good options.
Take your padding and place it about 6 inches away from the wall. From here, with hands on the ground, nestle your right knee onto the padding and step your left foot in front of you in a half lunge. Take your hands to your left thigh and press firmly to lean back (lunge style- shoulders stack over hips). Thrust your hip bones forwards. Optional: Take right hand to sole of right foot and press down firmly. 8-10 breaths then switch sides.
Advanced: Take your padding right up to where the wall and the floor meet. You're going to then come into the pose and lean back until your sitbones and shoulders make contact with the wall.
Why should I do this: So the name of the pose is kind of silly (It's what it was called during my teacher training with Amy Ippoliti), however you'll notice that isn't a laugh but a straight up GRIMACE on my face. That's because it hurts so good. Your quads will never feel more open.
8. Reclined Twist
What to do: After contorting your body into the above shapes, lie down and take your knees in towards your chest. Let your knees drop over to the right as you gaze to the left. Arms can be as they are in the picture or take them out wide (a la capital "T") or cactus arms (a la cactus plant). 8-10 breaths or longer before switching sides.
Why should I do this: With boarding there is a lot of twisting of the hips and shoulders involved. This is a chill and easy way to realign with a controlled twist while maintaining mobility/ range of motion. If your arms are out wide, you will have a bonus chest stretch. Your lower back and aforementioned whiplashed neck will also feel so so good here. Mmmmm
So there you have it. A few poses to help you hurt a little less the next day. Pair this with some beers and a hot tub bath with friends and you'll be golden.