Yoga in the Mountains

I'm currently in the French Alps learning to snowboard.  Yup, I'm 34 years old and doing my first season.  It's one of the most challenging, painful and rewarding things I've done so far.  Everything is new - chairlifts, bubbles, apres, altitude - and I'm having to really tap in to what works and doesn't work for me because a lot of the seasonaire lifestyle I can leave - the lack of sleep, the drinking and the wild nights out.

But the mountains are something else, when it snows it is simply magical - pure, mystical, silent - and being surrounded my this magestic, solid, stable force takes my breath away every time I step outside.  I feel so small, and then, when I make it up the mountain, I feel on top of the world.

I'm getting to grips with the different terrains, adjusting how to move my body, how to avoid catching edges and stacking it... but still I watch other people whizzing past me on boards and wonder if I'll ever get to that point.  Whizzing's not exactly my style, but I'd like to go a little more faster!

Yoga has been my saving grace, I'm aware I tend to breathe out more when I'm concentrating so I'm trying to allow myself to intake more o2, prana, energy as I'm coming down the slope.  My mind is focussed entirely on the job in hand, that practicing present moment awareness is inevitable - any internal wandering and I'm straight on the floor.  My emotional self is also having a work out, I need to be balanced and calm as I allow myself to move through this process of being a beginner - frustration, pity and giving up are simply not conducive.   Compassion and non judgement are the key - Ahimsa all the way down.  And the physical aspects have supported me greatly, I can tune into my toes when they need to be doing the work, I can connect with my front knee and I already have a conversation flowing from my head to my fingers.

My body has been carefully trained through yoga to respond to the crazy demands I am now putting on it.  Strap on a snowboard and throw myself down the mountain..?! Hell yeah! says my body.  Pre and post yoga workouts have been crucial on a daily basis to get me warmed up, stretched out and prevent serious injury.  I've out together a speeded up version of what I do before I head out...

Notice the emphasis on the wrist and knee joints, the extra triangle pose (I spend a lot of time standing the other way as I'm goofy), the opening of the hamstrings and some hand/leg balancing to activate root and core locks.  A simple 10 minute flow is all that's needed for getting into the right places in the body and ready for slope action.