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The annual pilgrimage to get the 'fix' of the white powder is starting soon and in life, preparation is the key to success, making sure the kit still fits, checking out the snow reports and getting the logistics sorted.

Some of us would even check out a gym and attempt to get the body in shape...

I got to thinking about this since most of the yoga I teach is about functional movement, core stability and moving efficiently. The public yoga classes I run are actually well suited for skiers so I have taken it a stage further and put together a really good sequence of postures. flowing movement that will prepare the key muscle groups for a bout of skiing or snow boarding. There is plenty about this on the internet, check out the snow+rock article. The sequence takes approximately 20 minutes, so practised about 3 times a week will strengthen the quads, hip flexors and core. Balance will improve, as will concentration.

I can teach this on a 'one -to-one basis to to a group. I will provide a handout to follow at home and some additional 'take aways' for pre ski and post ski stretches.

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OK let me qualify that statement.. When I say ‘younger’ I mean my twenties, thirties, forties, when the body is fully fused and

Get a different perspective...

own and I was in relatively good shape.

The general acceptance across my generation is that we start to fall apart from a certain age, things get stiff and ache and our movement isn’t as good as it once was, of course this is a generalisation although quite often a subject of conversation.

Awareness, good diet, nutrition and exercise is probably more prevalent in our generation than that of our parents and we are probably in better shape as a consequence, but are we in the best shape possible? If we are relatively healthy and fit, is it normal that we might struggle to put our socks on in the morning, lift our grandchildren, bend down to retrieve something off the floor and expect to get up effortlessly , find it a challenge to sit comfortably and sleep soundly?

Perhaps it is. I must admit I fully expected that when I approach the golden years and retirement beckons, I would be in pretty bad shape, the early years of excessive living, and the intense physical training would have caught up with me. Despite this expectation, it never put me off living that life, I guess denial played a big part and an attitude of ‘what will be…’

If any of this resonates, then may I suggest you consider yoga. Please don’t be put off by any preconceptions you may have or by any stigma, the yoga I refer to is fully functional, relevant, dogma free and certainly not ‘woo woo’

Practising a few yoga postures that are linked together with some intelligent movement will move the body in all 3 planes of movement, as we have been designed, but often not executed. Holding a position whilst focusing on alignment, stability and how you are breathing will build strength and loosen tightness and calm the mind. Balancing the body and defying gravity will improve concentration and provide moments of euphoria, it will, it does, believe me!

Put all of this together into a 5 minute or 10 minute or longer sequence, depending upon your time constraints, you will start to recover your natural range of movement – results will soon become evident. Naturally it will do much more than this over time, which brings me back to the heading;

“I couldn’t do that when I was younger…..but I can now”

Preconceptions about our body limitations are just that, it is in our power to challenge these, where you think you may be restricted in later years, may not be the case.

Trikonasana - the triangle
Trikonasana - the triangle

I really like the apparent simplicity of how we move our bones through space and time - flexing, extending, bending, twisting, hinging, pivoting, rotating, reaching, folding...the list of efficient and effortless movements goes on and on. Or not.

As we grow, develop and establish our routines across work and leisure we pattern our habitual movements. Our natural three planes of movement, front to back, side to side and rotational may not get fully used throughout our day.

The bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons are enveloped in layers of connective tissue and fascia. I describe this in my yoga classes as a ‘spider man suits’ that hold things together, from the superficial layer, just under the skin, to really deep layers.

When our habitual patterns of movement settle into these skinsuits (causing tugs and lines of pull), functional movement tends to be compromised, efficiency tends to be reduced, and 'effortless' tends to become 'effort-full'. We lose our all-round range of motion that we had as children simply because we don’t use it.

I can see from the classes I teach that many of us have developed such constraints.

Typically a yoga posture will place us in all three planes of movements at once (think of any twisting forward hinge hip opener!) That’s one of the reasons we ought to never get bored in asana practice - there are always bones to align, joints to stabilize and mobilize, muscles to strengthen and stretch, and fascia to unwind and unbind.

I make sure that my public classes are intelligently sequenced to move the body through the three planes and develop strength and flexibility as well as balance. We focus on functional movement and a strong stable core.

Whilst we may not be able to turn back the years, we can at least recover the range of movement we once had with some really good yoga!

See you on the mat.

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