All Yoga is Yoga for Skiers

It would take a lot more than yoga practice to make me a good downhill skier (for example hypnotherapy to eliminate my fear of careening at high speed down a slick, steep hill while dodging trees and perfectly innocent other skiers). My lack of skiing finesse is undeniable. Yoga to the rescue.

Last year I was lucky enough to get a private ski lesson from a member of the Sun Valley haut monde. He had me dancing down some hills. I was giddy and terrified. He was smiling and skiing backwards, keeping an eye on his charge. At one point I went splat— spread eagle on the snow. Face down. Skis still intact. And to Super Skier’s surprise, knees still intact.

I was almost happy to fall; I needed a break. This was no savasana, however. It was Chop Chop! Get up and get out of the way! Super Fancy Skier’s face was white. He could hardly believe I could stand.

So what gives? Why did my knees not give out? Why no snapping ligaments? I tell you my skis would snap before my knees. Bionic? No. I do not have bionic knees. I have yoga knees. Warrior knees. Warrior 1, 2, and 3, if-you-please-knees. Utkatasana (chair pose) knees. Trikonasana knees. Mindful knees.

Contract the quads, people! Ski season is here! My knees are held in place by ligaments and muscles that are stronger than the cables holding up those chairlifts! (Well, maybe not.) If your knees are needy, make sure you get some utthitha hasta padangusthasana in this week. Maybe even a little “shoot the duck”. Not sold yet? Tadasana on one foot, with your eyes closed.

So the knees are in good shape. But this is also because the hips are happy. They are strong and reasonably flexible. The back, the belly, the arms, the ankles, the feet: in any good yoga practice, these all get strengthened and stretched. The result is stability.

Have fun skiing this year, and maybe I will see you on a long, flat stretch of fresh corduroy in the Methow. We’ll glide along the valley floor on our cross country skis with a lovely view of the mountains all around.