So skiing and yoga may not seem obvious companions but I noticed this year on my annual ski trip that the lessons of yoga really helped me enjoy my skiing more.
The most obvious way yoga can help is by improving our sense of balance. When hurtling down the slope on one ski feeling a bit out of control remembering the time you held tree pose for 2 mins becomes rather comforting!
I've never been a very brave person but since taking the leap of faith to start my yoga teacher training programme I have found courage in other aspects of my life. During my ski week I found that courage really helped me relax and enjoy skiing the more challenging runs. I even followed the boys down into the snow fun park and skied the ski cross circuit. Even when I took a bad tumble I found the inner strength and courage to do it all again and not let the fear take over as it has in the past. The second time I got down safely in one piece and it felt fantastic!
It's amazing how fear can hold us back in our yoga practice and in our lives in general. Whilst skiing if fear takes hold it's very difficult to retain the balance and skill required to safely get down the slope.
My yoga and meditation practice has given me the time to really get to know myself. As a naturally fearful sort of person with a very strong self preservation streak when I find myself overcoming my natural tendencies and trying something new I can honestly say (even if it sounds a bit naff!) that I'm proud of myself as I know what I have had to do to get down that difficult slope. Yoga has enabled me to see that and to feel it's ok to be proud of myself.
When facing steeper slopes and that out of control feeling started to take root I engaged Uddiyana and Mula bandha and it was surprising effective in helping me maintain a good posture and helping with that all important balancing, perhaps give it go next time you are on the slopes!
Finally yoga has really helped me enjoy my ski week even more as I find now I can relax at the end of the day and feel perfectly content to sit with a cup of tea (caffeine not green sorry!) and spend some time just looking at and admiring all the details of the mountains in front of me. This year I was sitting in chairlifts observing the surrounding views and not thinking about the run I'd just done or what's coming next or worrying about home or work but just being happy to be where I was right now at peace with myself.
The practice of yoga has enriched my life in many ways and now has even helped me love my skiing more .... what a gift!