Winter is here! Many of you probably participate in winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and skating. Winter activities engage muscles that we don’t normally use the rest of the year. If you’re participating in winter sports or shoveling snow, these poses will build core strength and stability to prepare you for seasonal activities. Practice this sequence three times a week to prepare the muscles you’ll be using.
1. Boat Pose
Sit on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping a straight spine, lean back and lift your legs off the floor while balancing on your sit bones. Lift your chest while reaching your arms forward, palms facing each other. For a greater challenge, straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle. For a modification, gently hold the back of your knees for support.
2. Double Leg Raises
Lie on your back on your mat with your hands by your sides. Engage your core by squeezing your abdomen inward as you slowly raise your legs off the floor to a 45-degree angle and then slowly lower your legs to hover the ground. Continue to slowly lower and raise your legs while keeping your lower back, head, and shoulders on the mat the entire time.
3. Arm and Leg Raises
From table top position, lift your left arm to shoulder level. Reach and lift your right leg parallel to the floor. As you reach though your limbs, lengthen your spine. Do this for 30 seconds to a minute on each side while keeping your pelvis and back neutral the entire time.
4. Downward Dog
Transition from table top position into Downward Dog. Keep your hands shoulder-distance apart as you raise your tailbone to the ceiling. Spread your fingers wide and lay your palms flat. Engage your abs with a straight back and legs, lifting your tailbone and pressing your heels down toward your mat, encouraging spinal lengthening.
5. Warrior 1
Sink into this pose with your front knee directly over your front ankle. The goal of this pose is to get your front thigh parallel to the floor and your back leg nearly straight. Relax your shoulders down away from your ears as you reach your arms high toward the ceiling.
6. Chair Pose
Start by standing with your feet together, facing forward. Inhale and lift your arms overhead with palms facing each other. Keep your heels down, bend your knees and lower your torso as if you are to sit in a chair. Avoid bending your knees beyond your toes, as this can cause pain in your knee joints. Breathe deeply in the pose while focusing on keeping your shoulders down.
7. Warrior 3
From an upright position, step your right foot back into a lunge position. Lean forward so your chest hovers your left thigh and stretch your arms forward parallel to the floor and each other. Simultaneously, shift your body weight to your left leg while raising your back leg up so your body is in the shape of the letter “T.” Focus on keeping your hips level.