Like yoga, by practicing skiing, I will began to let go of my ego and truly experience my own unique expression each pose or each run.
Being in the great outdoors in the winter can be both inspiring and challenging. In New England, Mother Nature’s forces of cold, wind and snow never cease to amaze me. When shoveling and trudging through the snow becomes too much, my husband and I escape from Boston suburbia to the Green Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Though I regularly practice yoga and generally enjoy being active, I would not describe myself as a particularly athletic adult. Nonetheless, I decided to give skiing a try at the ripe age of 26. Let me tell you, nothing about the way my body moved when I first put on skis felt natural. In fact, it was frustrating, exhausting and down right terrifying. I finished ski school with bloated overconfidence and followed my husband to the top of the mountain.
Well, to no surprise to any of the experienced skiers or snowboarders who might be reading this, it didn’t go so well. The soft nurturing snow of the bunny hill had been replaced with malevolent, unforgiving ice. I realized very quickly that I was in WAY over my head.
After my adult tantrum at the top of Killington where I became frustrated with my clumsy human body, crappy conditions and my stubborn will that flatly refused to allow me kick off my skis and walk down the mountain, I got a heartfelt pep talk from my husband and friends. Each of them -in their own way- had a similar experience on the mountain as a brand new skier or snowboarder where they got scared, were they felt frustrated and fell a lot. They encouraged me to keep practicing, stating all skiers start out this way but with experience they pick up skills that make the impossible possible.
So much of this experience felt directly related to my physical yoga practice. No, I didn’t try a handstand at my first yoga class, but I recall the frustration I felt with my inadequate, clumsy human body as I struggled to keep up with the teachers queues and contort my limbs into foreign positions. With time and practice, yoga has become more than just what I experience on my mat and I warmly welcome the lessons learned as they gently integrate themselves into my life.
One yogic skill that transferred, naturally at first and now has become the fire that brings me through a tough run, is breathing, or pranayama. In yoga practice I have learned to acknowledge the strength that breathe holds to help me transfer from one pose to the next, to calm the parasympathetic nervous system and to provide a point of focus for my chattering mind. By consentrating on the pace and depth of the breath while skiing, I remain focused and fend off the pangs of anxiety, fear and inadequacy.
In my snowga I practice long elegant, curves and turns that are connected by one breath to one movement.
I call on this practice when I am at the top of a new run to calm my nerves as well as maintain my sense of control and confidence while working my way down to the bottom.
With time and with practice, yoga has helped me to discover that the impossible is in fact possible, even learning to ski.