Surfing and yoga have enjoyed an intrinsic connection for decades. The value of flexibility, strength and poise earned from regular yoga practice has real benefits out in line up. Surfers like Gerry Lopez have been outspoken advocates of yoga and it’s surf-riding benefits and there are even modern styles of yoga that incorporate surf specific asanas.
It’s also an interesting fact that Lopez relocated from the pumping waves of Hawaii, to the snow covered mountains of Oregon and has spent many years carving a name for himself out in the backcountry.
But beyond the sideways stance of a snowboard, backcountry pursuits have a lot of similarities with surfing, and even more so with yoga.
By adopting a regular yoga practice, you could enjoy a wealth of performance benefits out in the mountains. The strength and conditioning yoga brings can help improve your stamina and reduce muscle fatigue, but what’s even more interesting, is the knock-on effect from improved mobility.
When your limbs and extremities have full range of motion, you are less likely to suffer from injury, and also more adept to pulling off dynamic grabs, rotations and powder turns up on the hill.
Breath work forms an integral part of yoga and can help you to stretch further, improve your range of mobility and keep your body calm in stressful situations. This naturally has value up in the backcountry where natural risks need to be assessed on a minute by minute basis.
We talk a lot about being in flow, and yoga can really help you get a firm understanding about what conditions are required for you to get properly in the zone. Breathing expert Brian McKenzie cites breathing in the parasympathetic state to be key in achieving flow. Reason enough to get on the matt each morning.
There’s an escapism that riding big mountains brings. An inner calm that’s only achieved in solitary sports and heightened by being at one with nature. It’s the process where you feel you can just cruise and flow down the hill; slashing at banks and laying down an edge into thigh deep powder.
The wilderness is what backcountry riding has come to represent, a wild terrain that delivers serenity and peace from the hectic, fast paced, digitally-connected world we’re continually caught up in.
If you’re looking to improve performance, get into the flow state more easily, or to have a more connected experience in the mountains, regular yoga practice could be the missing ingredient to your training.
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We caught up with Derek Chandler of Marmalade Ski School, one of our official FLOA partners to talk about the diversity of the 3 Valleys and escaping the confines of normal skiing…