For winter athletes of all levels, physical fitness is essential for a good time on the slopes. Snowboarders, snowsurfers and all athletes in particular are prone to a wide range of injuries, ranging in severity from bone bruises and sprains to fractures, dislocations or even concussions. Understandably, new snowboarders are always on the lookout for a means to improve their performance in the snow.

In this post, we go over the ways yoga and active meditation can enhance your snowboarding not just from the perspective of performance, but the overall experience and its therapeutic effects on our mental health.

A Crash Course on Yoga

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that has been around for over 5,000 years. It is a system of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that were first codified in the yoga sutras, which are texts written by the sage Patanjali. Yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, and is seen as a way to join together the body, mind, and spirit. 

Yoga is often practiced in a studio with mats and props such as blocks and blankets. However, it can also be done at home with no equipment. There are many different types of yoga, but all of them emphasize the importance of breath work and the holding of poses, which are more commonly known as asanas. 

The physical benefits of yoga include improved flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, better posture, and increased breath capacity. The mental benefits of yoga include reduced stress, improved concentration, endurance, circulation and immunity. Most practitioners of the discipline also tout an enhanced sense of well-being, a sense of connection to something larger than oneself, and a sense of inner peace throughout their daily lives.

Yoga is now gaining traction among many different levels of athletes in their careers. Collegiate, amateur and even professional athletes have made yoga part of their regimen to enhance their performance. 


Yoga and Active Meditation.


Though they are frequently conflated with one another, yoga and meditation are not exactly the same thing but practiced in parallel with one another. 

Specifically, active meditation is a form of mindfulness wherein you focus your attention on a specific task or activity. This can be anything from walking and focusing on the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, to washing dishes and paying attention to the feel of the water on your skin. 

While active meditation is about awareness of mind, yoga allows practitioners to hone their balance, flexibility and breathing technique for their physical body. 

The goal of both of these working in unison to help become more aware of the present moment and to learn to focus your attention on one task at a time. This can help individuals to feel less stressed and more mindful in their everyday lives.


How Can Yoga & Meditation Improve Your Snowboarding?

Here are just four of the most notable ways yoga and meditation can improve a snowboarder's life:

  1. Improving Flexibility The importance of flexibility in snowboarding cannot be understated. By remaining flexible, you are able to maintain proper form and technique while simultaneously providing your body with the ability to absorb impact and distribute weight more evenly. This ultimately leads to a safer and more enjoyable experience on the slopes.
  2. Developing Balance One of the most important aspects of snowboarding is maintaining balance. Without proper balance, a rider will not be able to control their board and will likely fall. There are several factors that can affect a rider's balance, including weight distribution, center of gravity, and body position. By understanding how these factors influence balance, riders can make adjustments to their stance and technique to stay upright and avoid spills.
  3. Keeping Stress and Anxiety In Check As any serious athlete can attest, stress can be seriously detrimental to optimal athletic performance. When stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol, which can inhibit our ability to think clearly, react quickly, and make good snap decisions. It also interferes with muscular coordination and balance. In other words, stress makes it more difficult to do everything we need to do in order to snowboard well. Stress and anxiety can also seriously interfere with regular or healthy sleep patterns, compromising muscle recovery and tissue regeneration during recovery windows.
  4. Strengthening the Core Muscles The core muscles play a very important role in snowboarding. These muscles help to keep the rider stable and balanced while going down the slopes. A strong core also helps to absorb shocks from bumps and jumps, all while enabling a greater range of motion for jumps and tricks — as well as quickly decelerating in a pinch.

Overall, yoga and active meditation can be great ways to improve your snowboarding skills and experience. It provides many health benefits and luckily for any budding snow yogi, there’s no shortage of yoga classes across the country for new practitioners of any physical condition.

Written by Paul Lewin, True Blue