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!