Are you a beginner or an advanced skier wishing to improve your skiing?
If yes, this article is for you! You will learn how to use yoga techniques to conquer your fears, improve balance, stay present, and have a blast skiing.
1) Breathe to Conquer Your Fear
Fear is excitement without the breath. ~Fritz Perls
I am not a courageous person by nature. However, I’ve discovered that I could find courage in myself to move forward and take leaps of faith at certain critical moments of my life. I also realized that there are only two choices in life 1) you can hide in your comfort zone and allow your fears to rule your life, or 2) you can face your fears and live your life to the fullest. Courage is just like a muscle. By practicing courage, we can build our courage muscle. And we must work this muscle just like any other muscle. First a little, and then a bit more. All the exciting things require a bit more courage than we now have.
I’ve skied on and off for about ten years. My skiing love affair began with my husband buying me my first ski lesson for my 31st birthday. In addition to not being a courageous person by nature, I was afraid of heights. However, I loved being outdoors, the beauty of winter, the solitude of the chair lift, and the rush of going down the slope. Also, I hate giving up to allow fears to rule my life.
So, only one way to go – with some breaths, take a leap down the mountain!
Home Breathing Practice (between 5 and 10 minutes):
- Block between 5 and 10 minutes when you won’t be interrupted.
- Set the alarm, book your calendar, and commit to this practice daily!
- Keep it simple; keep it consistent.
- Settle in a comfortable position (sitting or laying down).
- Inhale and exhale through your nose for the count for about 12 to 20 rounds.
- As you inhale, focus on your chest rising.
- As you exhale, gently pull your belly button towards your spine.
- Make your breath smooth and even like ocean waves.
- Keep your mind focused on your breaths.
Stop whatever you are doing right now and take a few deep breaths. How does it make you feel?
When the fear creeps into your mind, whether you are sitting on a lift chair, with your teeth chattering, or about to go down the moguls, use the same technique to quiet your mind and focus on the present.
2) Cultivate Balance With Yoga
Yoga pose (asana) must have the dual qualities of alertness (sthira) and ease (sukha). The quality of alertness is one without tension. While the quality of relaxation is one without dullness or heaviness.
In skiing, just like in yoga, we work on cultivating alertness with ease. Skiing puts you into an awkward position, especially you aren’t used to it. The boots push you forward, but the weight of the front of your skis pushes you back. Leaning forward or backward is dangerous. In fact, I think this might’ve contributed to my crush. So, it would be best if you kept your legs under your torso while your shoulders are pointing downhill. Practice balancing yoga poses to find balance on skis.
On The Mat (about 15 minutes):
Just like breathing exercises, you must allocate some uninterrupted time daily. Start with five-minute warm-up (options: walk, march in place, do some sun salutes)
1) Chair Pose | variations: getting on your toes and one leg
- Inhale, raise your arms.
- Exhale as you engage your core and bring your butt towards the imaginary chair.
- During the next round, lift one leg while you are in the pose.
- And next time you sink into the imaginary chair, raise your heels, coming to your toes.
- Do this pose dynamically a few times (getting in and out of the pose).
- Finally, hold the pose for about ten to twenty breaths.
- When holding the pose, focus on taking smooth deep breaths through your nose.
2) Warrior III Pose
- Inhale expanding your chest.
- Exhale as you engage your core.
- Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale, bring your right leg behind you while you are balancing on your left leg.
- Repeat the movement on the same side about ten times.
- Stay in this position for about 10 to 20 smooth and even breaths.
- Repeat the sequence with the left leg.
3) One Legged Stands
- Inhale as you expand your chest.
- Exhale and engage your core.
- Bring one leg up as you balance on the other.
- Stay in the position for about 40 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Progress standing with your eyes closed.
4) Core Work Options:
- side plank
- elbow plank
- leg raises
Try a core workout from BodyRock.
On the slope: Assuming you’ve done your homework. So, your balance and strength are improving. It is time to put it to a real test by using the same technique on the slopes. Start on the very easy terrain. Try sinking into a chair while distributing your weight evenly as you engage your core. Lift one leg as you ski and the other.
3) Stay Present with Meditation
Forever is composed of nows. – Emily Dickinson
The goal of yoga (meditation) is to cultivate the stage of sustained attention. Besides, you can think of meditation as being continually connected to the chosen object. In fact, I believe that the unfocused mind is equivalent to death while skiing. On the other hand, skiing can be a meditation in motion. Your breath coordinates with movements. As you inhale, you extend your legs, and as you exhale, you bend and retract.
Meditation Practice (between 5 to10 minutes)
Just like breathing and exercises, you have to commit to this practice daily. To do so, keep it short and straightforward. Contrary to popular belief, meditation practice is not about sitting cross-legged in a lotus pose for hours with an empty mind. Conversely, the practice of meditation is about focusing your mind on an object. Typically, the meditation object is recommended by a qualified teacher. It can be a mountain, a rising sun, or a water stream – to name a few.
We will use the mountain for our purposes.
- Find a comfortable sitting or lying position (can use the chair)
- Inhale on the count of four through your mouth, focusing on your chest expanding
- Exhale on the count of four through your mouth as you slightly bring your belly button towards your spine
- Repeat for 12 to 20 breaths
- Keep your mind on your breaths, making them smooth and even
- If your mind wanders, put a label on your thought and return your focus to breathing
- Visualize a mountain, focus on the mountain, become one with it
- Explore the sensations you’ve experienced
- Let go of the image and give your thanks to the mountain
On the slope: Remember your meditation practice; use the same technique to bring your mind to the present moment. Visualize your runs; see yourself going down the mountain.
Go Slow, Have Patience
As with anything, you are learning to ski takes time. So, if you have unreasonable expectations, you will get frustrated. Also, remember there is no shame in giving up. Skiing is no joke! You can have a blast enjoying the sports, but injuries are real. Do your homework, be confident in your abilities. Use caution, but don’t let the fear paralyze you. Take some deep breaths and focus on what you know. Also, take as many breaks as you need. You have to find your edge between pushing too much and just getting out of your comfort zone. Hire an instructor.
To conclude, skiing is just like any other practice. The attitude of letting go and connecting with the inner presence of quiet and steadiness is the most important.
Thanks for reading!