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Yoga and Pilates for Cross Country Skiing
By:  Sheila Kealey   (2012/01/03)

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Many winter Olympians say yoga benefits their sport by increasing their focus, mental awareness, and flexibility. Chandra Crawford considers it an important part of her recovery routine, and introduces yoga to young girls in her popular Fast & Female Workshops.

Many XC Ottawa athletes practice yoga, or have intentions to. Megan has taken classes at lunch, Logan already wrote about his yoga experience, saying

"When I first started yoga I could barely touch my toes and nearly every pose or position was extremely painful for me. I am now able to do a variety of positions comfortably. . . "

I'm also a great believer in the benefits of yoga. I've been taking a yoga/pilates class that has made a huge difference in my overall flexibility, strength, and body awareness. I didn't even know how much certain areas were tight, weak, or restricted, but quickly figured it out in this class.

As endurance athletes, many of us have a great aerobic capacity, but are lacking in other areas that can limit our skiing. Here are a few examples (there are many!):

- lack of calf flexibility can limit your ankle flex, which is critical to a good kick in classic and skate
- tight hips can limit hip rotation, critical to good classic striding and weight transfer

Flexibility, strength, balance, stability, and body awareness are key to many techniques and injury prevention: the blend of yoga and pilates is a great way to improve these areas. I think muscles respond and relax better to flowing movements and poses compared to most stretching routines. The relaxation and breathing with movement, which central to yoga and pilates, can also help ski technique. I like the pilates mixed in with the yoga, because of the added strength component, focusing on the core muscles. All this in one class, makes it a very time-efficient hour!

But, here's the problem for many: few of us are full-time athletes, or have time to add another activity to our week. And, though we know this is all good for us, we'd much rather go for a ski! There are many classes available, so if you can find something that fits into your schedule, you'll definitely benefit. Don't worry it it's just once a week, the body awareness and skills you develop are long lasting.

If you don't know where to start, don't have a lot of time, or want something specific to your weaknesses, here's an option that might work for you:

Lori Meyers (my yoga/pilates instructor) asked me to help out with a yoga/pilates workshop specifically designed for cross country skiers. It's a 2-hour workshop, and by the end Lori wants you to leave with your own routine, tailored to the areas you need to work on, that you can do at home. Lori, a skier herself, is an incredible instructor and her classes are always fun, entertaining, and accommodate all levels.

If you're available January 21st, 4-6 PM, this is a great opportunity! You can find more details and online registration here. 


Lori Meyers, Triangle Pose

Lori is also a regular contributor to SkiTrax magazine. You can learn more about Lori and her other classes here.




 
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