It’s that time of year. The first day on the hill has been celebrated and there’s still time to start a home exercise program to supplement the pow turns and take care of the body as we ease in to full-on ski and snowboard season. In previous years The Insider and local legend Julia Murray picked up some helpful strength and endurance tips from Opus Athletics/Crossfit Whistler as well as a good outdoor routine with local model/trainer Allie Thomas. This year we’re supplementing those routines with some DIY yoga maneuvers to help build strength and loosen up those key areas that often don’t get enough attention. To help ensure we’re hitting the poses correctly full top-to-bottom benefit we’re hooking up with one of Whistler’s most loved yoga teachers, who also has pro snowboarding experience.
Crystal Rainbow Borrelli came to Whistler in 1997 as a teenager and quickly settled into the freeriding dream—ride pow all day, work evenings, get paid to shred for the cameras. A yoga practioner her entire life, Crystal completed teacher training in 2009 and has since become one of the busiest and most popular yogis in the Sea to Sky corridor. We caught up with her in between teaching retreats in Peru and India and she was kind enough to talk us through these five poses to help skiers and snowboarders get dialled for ski season. Nama-slay!!
Pose 1: Anjaneyasana /Low Lunge
“Come into this one from downward facing dog, bring the left leg forward into low lunge with a bind. Hold, and repeat on the other side (you should do all the poses on both sides.)
When you’re skiing you crouch a lot and that tightens hip flexors. This pose is good for opening those hip flexors up and the bind into your shoulders and slight back bend helps strengthen and loosen the back as well.”
Pose 2: Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana / Pigeon
“Come into it from downward facing dog, place your right knee behind your right wrist with your right foot is in front of your left hip flexor. The back leg comes down, elongates and straightens. Then bow and fold or just fold. This is another one that is good for hips. Hips hips hips– men especially always have tight hips but this one is good for everyone. A crowd favourite.”
Pose 3: Janu Sirsanasa / Head-to Knee Forward Bend
“In seated position with legs extended out front, bend your right knee and direct it out to the side and place sole of your foot to the inner left thigh. Reach your right arm up to lengthen your waist and bow and fold taking your right hand to the outside of extended left leg or foot. This adds a twist and the pose is really good for hamstrings, hips and lower back.”
Pose 4: Ardh Chandrasana / Half-Moon Pose
“Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and bring your left hand to your left hip. The right arm sweeps up and over to your left to send your hips to the right. (Remember to do both sides.) This is another one that helps the hip flexors, it gets really deep into them and is just a good side body stretch. It also strengthens the abdominals, buttocks, ankles, thighs, and spine while improving coordination and a sense of balance. And it’s easy to do anywhere. This is a key pre-season pose.”
Pose 5: Utkatasana / Chair Breathing
“Keep your feet hip distance, standing tall. Reach your arms out in front of you, shoulder width, as you inhale pull the elbow tips back to open up through your chest. As you exhale sink into a chair, sinking your hips low and reaching your arms out in front of you. Inhale as you stand up. Do it for 30 breaths and then hold in the chair for another 20 breaths.
This one is good for your quads and tones the leg muscles excellently. It strengthens hip flexors, ankles, calves and back while stretching the chest and shoulders. It also stimulates the heart and abdominal organs.
A Bonus Breathing Technique is called Ujjayi – breathing to build heat. You restrict your epiglottis in the back of your throat and exhale as if you are trying to fog up a mirror in front of you, but you’re doing with your mouth closed so the breath goes out your nose. Try it! Have fun and I’ll see you on the slopes rocking it with nice strong, loose hip flexors!”
The secret to a long ski season or successful ski vacation is taking good care of your body as well as your gear. That means taking time to rest and hit up the spa, get a massage, do yoga and get treatment for any aches and pains before they turn into issues. Luckily there’s a ton of wellness professionals in Whistler as well as plenty to do on those all important recovery days. Check out Whistler.com for more info.