Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sticks and Skiing

Even on a mountain, in 15 degree weather, the yoga is present.

I took my first ski lesson today. To get the feeling of leaning down the hill in a no-fear embrace of wind, snow, and slope, the instructor had us balance on one ski, letting our other leg point straight back. I thought, "Balancing stick, baby! Tuladandasana forever!" Despite the wind and low visibility, the teacher noticed my balance and said, "Hey, you do yoga?!" An awareness of hips and alignment is necessary, too, as there's a tendency to stick the butt out when you actually want to pull it forward as you do in half-moon.

But you skiiers know, skiing is no joke. Remember my post on sprezzatura? It looks so easy, yet it's tremendously difficult and initially counterintuitive. Much of the technique goes against our instincts (i.e., leaning forward), and that whole flying down a mountain thing is bound to get your heart rate up. What a way to meet your fears head-on.

My first two runs were a little terrifying. I realized at the end of the second that I was holding my breath as I wedged slowly down the hill and knew that had to change. Perfect situation to bring in yoga principles. One thing yoga has showed me is that I tend to be guided by fear. I hold back a lot--in class, in life, on the slopes--and as a result, I don't reach my full potential. Skiing totally tapped into that. After those first two runs, I didn't want to go back up, but I managed to get myself back on the lift. As I rode up, I did some pranyama--in through the nose, out through the nose (no hand movement, of course--had to hang onto my ski poles and gloves!). Doing so helped tremendously. And I have free lifts and rentals tomorrow, so you know I will be back out there. Still a little scared, though :-)

No Bikram yoga classes up here, but the principles find their way everywhere!
 Don't mess with Mother Nature. Just wear good clothes!


Chrissy D. said...

Reminds me of when I went rappelling in Costa Rica a couple months ago. After doing the first three waterfalls, I didn't want to do the fourth -- which was at a height of 200 feet. I was terrified. I also realized I'd been holding my breath when I rappelled down the earlier waterfalls, which was causing me to panic on route. Like you, I did some pranyama deep breathing to calm myself down. It helped a lot and I was so proud of myself for going down that last waterfall. Not sure I want to do it again, though. Once in a lifetime is good enough for me.

Never been skiing before (despite the fact that I live in Canada). You mentioned on Twitter that it was like doing three b2b Bikram classes! Must have been incredible.

Yolk E said...

Thanks for the support, Chrissy! Yeah, I couldn't believe how wiped I was--could barely walk, and even a couple of hours later the adrenaline was still running.

How cool you rappeled in CR! I didn't do that when I was there (did the zipline, though!) but that would definitely scare me, too!

Lady J said...

Oh good for you!!! It is so hard to get back up there again.

bikramyogachick said...

The hardest part of skiing for me was getting off the damn chair lift! :)