Yoga For Snowboarders | Why your snowboarding will benefit from yoga

Emily Ruth takes us through her yoga practices tailored for snowboarders

For years, many snowboarders have been keen practitioners of yoga. Snowboarding is a very dynamic sport and can be quite strenuous on your body (even if, at times, we choose to not admit it and ride through the pain), so having a way to help offset this is something we’d all probably like a little more of in our lives.

“Having a greater full-body awareness gives me better control on my board, whether that’s body position for carving pistes or riding powder”

Yoga helps us to recover from days spent up the hill. Different poses also help us gain strength and balance, which both improve our riding. But it isn’t just about the physical aspects, yoga is also a great way to work on the mental side by helping us to remain calm and focused.

As someone who’s practised yoga for a few years now, I have felt it complementing my snowboarding. Not only has it helped me recover more quickly, but it’s also improved my balance and coordination on the board, giving me more confidence and precision in my riding. I’ve felt that it’s made me more aware of the imbalances in my own body, and by recognising these I’ve been able to play that to my advantage in my snowboarding.

Emily Ruth is a snowboarder and yoga teacher based out in Morzine, France. Her passion for the mountains has taken her around the world, from learning and exploring yoga in Queenstown, New Zealand, training in the Himalayas to teaching in Morzine, Whistler and Fernie.

With group activities essentially cancelled for the past 12 months, Emily’s been busy uploading a bunch of Yoga practices on her YouTube channel to help us keep up with our Yoga routines from home. Her ‘Yoga for Snowboarders’ series is designed to have you riding fit for the start of the season and to help remain injury-free throughout.

We sat down with Emily to find out about her relationship with yoga.

Hi Emily and thank you for taking the time to chat with us. So, how long have you been practising yoga and what got you into it?
I first got into yoga about 7 years ago, during my first Summer out here in Morzine. I hadn’t lived in the mountains during the Summer before and basically picked it up as something to do.

What benefits can snowboarders get from doing yoga?
There are so many benefits. Athletes have even begun to use yoga and meditation for performance in competitions. Physically it cultivates strength and flexibility & improves balance – activating muscles you use pre-riding and giving you time to unwind post riding. And mentally it shifts your mindset. You begin to learn tools to find a sense of calm and are able to drop into your breath, which can be a gamechanger when you’re in sticky situations on the hill.

Have you noticed any difference in your snowboarding since you started doing yoga?
Definitely! Having a greater full-body awareness gives me better control on my board, whether that’s body position for carving pistes or riding powder. And my breath control when touring, which has played a huge part of this winter! The mental shift has also made a huge difference, especially during days in the backcountry, being able to remain focused when the fear begins to creep in.

What are your top 3 favourite yoga poses and why?
Hmm, that’s hard! Ok, this is not a finalised list, but these 3 are definitely in my top:

Downward facing dog. It lengthens the entire backline of your body, from the plantar fascia in your feet, through the crown of your head. You get a great spinal stretch, a gentle inversion, and it just feels so damn good!

Pigeon Pose. A great stretch to get into the outer edge of your hips and glutes, as well as your opposite hip flexor, generally all areas that need releasing after a day on the mountain.

Side Plank. Cultivates strength through the entire body, activating everything from your obliques, shoulders, chest, adductors and wrists, as well as improving your balance.

Any tips for beginners who want to get into yoga but for whatever reasons find it hard?
There’s never a perfect time to start anything, so just give it a go. Undoubtedly you do have the time, all you need to do is jump on a mat.

“Being able to practice from home takes out some of the anxiety of actually showing up at a yoga studio”

You can start with shorter online videos to give it a try, or head to a live online class. Being able to practice from home takes out some of the anxiety of actually showing up at a yoga studio – you’re in your own space, you have a teacher to follow, and you can rest/sweat/laugh without any inhibitions.

Thank you, Emily.

Check out the rest of Emily’s yoga videos here or head over to her website, Emily Ruth Yoga, to find out more.

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