Why yoga and cross-country skiing are a great match

Why yoga and cross-country skiing are a great match

By February 12, 2021 Article No Comments
Why yoga and cross-country skiing are a great match

Did you know your yoga practice can actually help you improve your cross-country skiing? The two activities have some skill and strength requirements in common that make them an ideal pair.

Finding activities that work together can actually help improve your performance in both!

Yoga has so many benefits on its own, but a regular practice also provides certain skills, strength and endurance that will take your cross-country skiing to the next level. Here’s how…

 

Flexibility


Flexibility is central to any yoga practice. Whether you move through poses quickly, or hold them for a little while longer, your flexibility will improve with time. Yoga pushes you to stretch further and deeper with each movement; creating immense benefits for your overall flexibility.

Why it’s great for cross-country skiing…

When your body is flexible, it has a natural ability to adjust to new movements. While cross-country skiing can be pretty rhythmic and straightforward, you do sometimes need to make quick adjustments to your alignment or body placement.

From irregularities on the trail, to an interruption from another skier (or a small animal!), there are many situations that could call for sudden changes in your movement. With increased flexibility (Hello, sun salutations and half-moon poses!), you’ll be able to make those adjustments smoothly, without causing your body any pain or discomfort.

 

Core strength/alignment


Yoga is a full-body workout, but many of the poses you move through and hold really target your core strength. Having a strong core can lead to better posture, increased power and improved stamina. Yoga also encourages you to pay attention to proper body alignment, which makes you feel more grounded and can help you to avoid injuries.

Why it’s great for cross-country skiing…

Cross-country skiing engages your whole body, and a strong core will allow you to achieve a more powerful stride and maintain better balance. Most of your balance control comes from the core, so when your core is engaged you will naturally find it easier to stay upright (even when it’s icy out there!). Your legs and arms also draw strength from your core when you cross-country ski; so that core strength and body alignment you developed through yoga will improve your overall performance as you head out on your skis.

 

Breath


Yoga is all about breath awareness and using your breath to support your movements. One of the first steps is to become aware of your natural breathing pattern, and to establish a steady rhythm that will help increase your energy and release tension while you practice. Yogic practice teaches you to use your deep ‘’belly’’ breathing (as opposed to a shallow, chest only breathing). This technique delivers more oxygen to your blood and results in better physical performance.

Why it’s great for cross-country skiing…

There’s no question – cross-country skiing is an excellent cardio activity. It doesn’t take long to get your heart rate up as you glide through the snow. As is the case with any cardio workout, your performance will improve if you can regulate your breath and use it to support you as you move. Just like you would in a yoga class, you can establish a rhythm of breathing while you ski. That deep rhythmic breath will give your body the oxygen and energy it needs to keep moving comfortably.

 

Balance/proprioception


Whether attempting a headstand or trying to master the tree pose, balance is an important part of any yoga practice. Yoga encourages conscious proprioception (the body’s ability to perceive its own position in space). Through your practice, you become more mindful of how you position your limbs and the rest of your body, which leads to better balance. Regular yoga practice helps you build this skill and achieve greater body awareness as well as improved coordination.

Why it’s great for cross-country skiing…

One of the most basic objectives when cross-country skiing is to avoid falling down. Depending on the condition of the trail, the snow (and so many other factors), you may sometimes find it challenging just to stay upright on your skis—let alone perfect your stride. If you have developed better balance control in another sport, you will feel more steady when you set out to ski. Greater balance will also help you to move with agility when the trail is uneven or you need to adjust your stride.

 

Tranquility/meditation


Perhaps one of the most appealing benefits of yoga is the sense of peace and tranquility it can provide. Yoga encourages mindfulness and teaches you to respect your limits while also becoming aware of the incredible power you have within. As you develop your own yoga practice, you learn to pay attention to the cues that your body and mind are sending. This connection is an important part of feeling balanced, rejuvenated and (ideally) injury-free when doing any activity.

Why it’s great for cross-country skiing…

Although it is a very active sport, cross-country skiing can also be quite meditative. Because it is practiced outdoors, cross-country skiing provides an opportunity to take in the fresh air and allow the rhythmic activity to quieten your mind. Once again, the body-mind connection you have developed through your yoga practice will help you to fall into a more calm and meditative state as you find your stride on cross-country skis.

 

It’s great to take advantage of any opportunity to get moving and do something good for your body and your mind; but it’s even more satisfying when you realize two activities you enjoy actually complement each other.

Yoga offers a multitude of fitness and wellness benefits that just happen to match really well with the skills required for cross-country skiing. Switching up your activities is a great way to stay interested and motivated, while developing new skills and working different areas of the body.

Now is the perfect time to get outside and try cross-country skiing. So, why not follow-up your outdoor fun with a relaxing at-home yoga session? Namaste!
*In keeping with our mission to make sport more accessible to all, this article was written by the Decathlon team in collaboration with YogaTribes as part of our unpaid partnership. To book yoga classes, please make sure to visit Decathlon Community and YogaTribes.

Decathlon Canada

Photo Credit: Eve-Marie Beauregard

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