Lace Up & Let Go
Ice-skating can sometimes resemble asana-on-ice, and the sport's precise balancing act can be improved by yoga practice. Skating requires strong and sensitive stabilizers, the tiny muscles around the hips, knees, and ankles that standing yoga postures, in particular, enhance. Recreational skaters who lace up a few times a year can gain confidence and help avoid injury through yoga, says Angela Duffy, a yoga teacher and skating coach in Edmonton, Canada, due to the balance, coordination, and strength gained through regular practice.
Elite skaters and 2014 Winter Olympics hopefuls are also incorporating yoga into their training regimens. Speed skater Jessica Smith practices Bikram Yoga to achieve "flexibility while getting a workout in." She finds that Triangle and Bow poses "open up the hips and hamstrings and are great for speed skating." Figure skater Gracie Gold also credits Bikram Yoga with increasing her flexibility for spins and spirals and her core strength for landing jumps. But perhaps most importantly, she says, yoga has taught her how to breathe to manage her adrenaline.
"Figure skating is a sport of relaxed focus," says Gold. "Yoga teaches body awareness and how to stay in the moment, which have been invaluable to my skating career."
3 Poses to Strength Your Focus + Balance