It’s a yoga lesson that prepares you for ski season and helps you recover – welcome to Snowga, a combination of yoga and skiing.
I’m going skiing for the first time in a couple of weeks. I’ve been for six ski lessons and have been extremely sore the next day, particularly on my inner thighs. I haven’t just got thigh burn, I’ve also got bruising – very sexy. I’ve tried massaging my calves, thighs, feet and shoulders ( my teacher says I’m tensing way too much on the lift), but it’s not helping.
When I heard about Snowga – yoga that focuses on the main muscles used when skiing and helps you recover, I was overjoyed. It’s the only class of it’s kind in the UK and was created by yoga instructor and ski lover Rachel Caffarate earlier this year. She’s been teaching classes for a few months at Slice Studios in Parson’s Green.
Snowga focuses on the main muscles used when skiing and is the only class of it’s kind in the UK.
Rachel was aware that ‘many of us book a trip to the slopes without having warmed up the muscles beforehand and experience aches, pains, tiredness and in particular, thigh burn.’ Like me, I’m sure many of you can relate to this.
‘This is a great class to prepare for the slopes and learn good stretches to do before and after a day’s skiing or snow-boading. It also calms the mind by focusing on the breath and encourages practitioners to stay present and focused which are key when skiing or snowboarding’ she adds.
Remaining calm is another thing I need help with considering every time I pick up speed I panic and can’t seem to slow down so I really need to learn how to focus.
Yoga calms the mind by focusing on the breath and encourages practitioners to stay present and focused which are key when skiing or snowboarding.
So, what should you expect from a Snowga class? Well firstly, it is a vinyasa style yoga class whereby one pose is linked to the other in a flowing sequence.
Depending on your weight, you can burn up to several hundred calories in an hour’s session. So, not only are you ‘strengthening the core, building leg and glute strength, opening up the hips and shoulders, and reinforcing and balancing the small muscles of the feet and ankles’ but you’re also losing weight.
You can burn up to several hundred calories in an hour’s session.
I’ve done a few yoga classes in the past but never a vinyasa style one, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fluidity of movement. Naturally, there were times when it was difficult as I kept having to look at what Rachel was doing as I wasn’t completely familiar with all the poses but I picked it up quickly, as did the rest of the class, (about ten of us). Regardless of whether or not you’ve ever tried yoga, Rachel offers modifications for beginners and the advanced so this class really is for everyone.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve ever tried yoga, Rachel offers modifications for beginners and the advanced so this class really is for everyone.
The main sequence we repeated several times during the lesson was moving from downward dog to plank position, followed by lowering our knees, chest and chin to the floor and up into a cobra pose. The more we did this, the more outstretched I could feel each movement becoming. With the downward dog pose, my feet were flat on the mat by the end of the class – progress in just one hour.
One part I found particularly difficult was moving from a Humble Warrior pose to a Warrior Three pose – where you raise your back leg out whilst stretching your alternate arm out. When I tried this position at home, I could manage it but halfway through the lesson, I simply didn’t have the strength to keep myself up. Apart from Warrior Three, I found the Warrior poses easy to maintain and really loved the stretch I felt in my back when doing the Humble Warrior. My legs felt a bit of a burn after awhile as I’m not used to holding lunges for so long.
My favourite position was the Bow Pose which opens up your chest. We did this with knees together and knees apart. I liked the challenge of trying to lift my chest higher of the ground and the stretch felt great on my back and thighs.
Rachel ended the lesson with a Savasana, also known as the Corpse pose (not the most appealing name) which basically is lying down on the floor. It helps relax the body which I’m sure everyone will be in need of after several hours on the slopes.
Below, Rachel has provided positions that help stretch and strengthen five key areas for when you go skiing or snowboarding.
1) Glutes – ‘strengthen through crescent lunges, warrior poses and pulsing in these poses. Also pigeon pose which stretches the piriformis muscle.’
2) Core – ‘boat pose (Navasana) pulsing to strengthen the core.’ I bent my knees so my legs were straight out in front of me rather than facing the ceiling as I found this easier to hold, which Rachel said was fine. I could really feel my core working when pulsating. Ensure you don’t lean on your tail-bone – that’s uncomfortable and hurts.
3) Thighs – ‘crescent lunges variations of the chair pose (utkatasana).’ I could see how the chair pose would really benefit skiing. The Chair pose may seems easy but you feel the effect on your legs quite quickly – my legs became quite shaky after awhile.
5) Toes – toe stretch by sitting on knees and taking sit bones to heels, toes tucked under. Holding for several breaths.
Remember that ‘Yoga really is complimentary to most sports in that it stretches out the major muscles of the body so is a good preparation and form of recovery for all cardio sports’ so before you go skiing or snowboarding, head down to Slice Studios and learn the yoga positions that are going to help alleviate those pains and burns, and keep you focused – you know it’ll be worth it after just one day.
Classes cost £12, visit Slice Studio’s website for details – extended to the 26th March.
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