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Health Beat: Yoga in winter – slopeside

  •  Ralph and Terry Vinson at their wedding in 1944.

    Ralph and Terry Vinson at their wedding in 1944.

  •  Ralph and Terry Vinson at their wedding in 1944.

    Ralph and Terry Vinson at their wedding in 1944.

  •  Ralph and Terry Vinson at their wedding in 1944.
  •  Ralph and Terry Vinson at their wedding in 1944.

Ever get to the end of a day of skiing or snowboarding and just not feel . . . right?

Hips too sore, abs aching, quads on fire, and spirit exhausted?

Don’t blame the mountain, or the conditions, or the flatlanders crowding the slope.

Maybe you should have started your day with a few sun salutations before your runs.

Denise Porter Kemp, a Concord-based yoga teacher, has been offering retreats this winter at The Viaggio Club Slopeside on Loon Mountain that start with a dynamic vinyasa, a flowing series of yoga poses that open the joints and warm the muscles.

“Doing sun salutations brings awareness to the body, so when we get on the mountain, we’re already in a place allowing the body to respond to the contours of the mountain,” Kemp said.

She has run two retreats this winter but developed the sequences for snowsport training over several years of her own practice.

Warming up the body’s core muscles by stretching the hips and abs gives her a chance to slide into a more graceful movement on the trail, rocking in her hips and using less energy for each curving turn.

The postures open the hips, knees and ankles and strengthen the ab muscles, “so you can be flexible in your legs and strong in your core and still in the upper body,” Kemp said.

She’ll even do some yoga postures once she’s all suited up, including a child’s pose on her snowboard that prompts passers-by to ask if she’s okay.

“I find, when I do it, it takes less time to warm up on the slopes. . . . When you do an action, you can either be depleting your energy or activating your energy. I teach that we’re activating our body, and then the actual skiing and riding can be energizing. It doesn’t mean you’re not tired, but at the end of the day, you’re tired in a way that’s rejuvenating. That’s the physical benefit,” she said.

“But I teach it also as a mind-body practice, to show people the possibility of having that meditative awareness in everything you do as we’re paying attention to what we’re doing, bringing awareness to everything.”

After a half day on the slopes, the skiers and riders unwind with some more deep stretch yoga poses, releasing tension and preventing some post-slope soreness.

The retreats – which include a half-day lift ticket – cost $100. For skiers or riders with their own tickets, the class is $70. She has one more retreat scheduled this year, on April 6.

Kemp also leads retreats for snowshoers: $60 for people with their own shoes and $80 for the class plus rentals. That class is scheduled for Saturday.

She developed the snowshoeing class, she said, for people who visit Loon with their families but don’t participate in mountain sports themselves.

“It makes a big difference, being in New England, to have something you look forward to about winter, to make the winter enjoyable,” she said. “It’s going to energize you rather than just having seasonal affective disorder, getting out there, getting in the woods, really enjoying nature and winter.”

Finding something to enjoy about winter is especially important this year, when it seems the season just isn’t going anywhere soon.

For more information, visit

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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