I have been skiing since I have been thirteen years old.
My mom took us as kids and I remember the first time going down the mountain without a lesson and just loving it instantly.
Skiing is a lot like riding a bike, where you kind of know the basics, and no matter the amount of time off, 6 months, a year, five years…you can jump right back into it.
I find that yoga and skiing go hand-in-hand. Yoga has definitely improved my skiing game for sure.
I just turned forty-three years old and I feel like my skiing gets better as I get older, and a lot of that links back to my yoga practice.
I have five points to bring what I have learned and use on my yoga mat, to snow and ice covered ski runs.
First is the breath.
You need your breath to stay calm and focused. There are many times where I get cold and I use my breath to warm me up as I bring my breath into my core.
There are times where I am afraid to go down a “Black Diamond” run, or the paths where its icy, or the sun is going down so visibility is less on the slopes and it’s a little harder to see, but you’re only choice is to go down the mountain.
So, the breath has been a savior in those moments. You take a couple deep breaths, you calm your mind and soul and just go.
Second is focus.
The gaze, is similar to a balancing yoga pose where you focus your eyes on a steady point. You are able to stay stronger in the pose, and same for skiing.
You can’t be looking all around, aside from being aware of your surroundings, other skiers, the run etc.
You have to keep your focus on your gaze.
When I am unfocused on my mat, I am wobbling all over the place and same on the slopes.
Third is balance.
All the balance poses we do in our practice help us get stronger, and in this case, we are able to stand on skis stronger.
Fourth is core.
Yoga builds a ton of core strength, and your core is needed in almost everything you do on a daily basis. To stand up on skis, your core is incredibly important, so building the strength on your mat only enables you to be able to do other activities and become stronger overall.
Chair pose is one of my least favorite poses in my practice, but it is a pose that goes hand-in-hand with skiing. You are squatting a lot on your skis, which simply translates directly into a chair pose position!
Fifth is overcoming fear.
Yoga teachers ask us to be present and overcome our fear on our mat, whether you fall out of your handstand, or come out of crow pose and you take a tumble forward.
To get stronger and to get better and overcome that fear you have to get back up and try it again!
For me, I am a super cautious skier…I take my time going down the mountain, I go slow and I don’t like to fall. Not many people do, but a consistent yoga practice helps us overcome the fear of falling on our skis. Going slower and being more cautious, but not being afraid to go down a hill you normally would be hesitant about is such a testament to overcoming fear, all starting on your yoga mat. Even hills out west, which are a lot steeper I am able to overcome. I focus, take a couple of deep breaths, tell myself to embrace the fear and I would get down to the bottom just fine!
Yoga and skiing are an amazing compliment and team, I highly recommend doing both, especially using these five points to up your skiing game!