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January 24, 2021

Taking Yoga Off the Mat & Onto the Skis. 

Recently, my fiancé and I moved from sunny California to the Sierra Mountains of Nevada.

In other words, we swapped the hot and busy city life of San Jose for snowy nature-livin’ in Lake Tahoe. However, my avoidance of chilly weather throughout life robbed me of exploring any sort of winter activities.

Despite living in colder climates for the majority of my life, I rarely ventured outdoors during the snowy climates. The idea of skiing or snowboarding down a mountain never appealed to me because I full-heartedly dislike being uncomfortably cold.

My partner adores skiing, so I wanted to make an effort to give the sport a try. He was one of the lucky ones who learned at such a young age that he doesn’t remember his father holding him up on a leash sliding downhill. That also meant that he totally forgot how to teach someone else how to ski.

I decided to avoid paying a $600 dollar fee for two hours of adult skiing lessons, and trusted Ryan to teach me.

He prepared me with all of the essentials: shoved my feet into the boots, buckled my helmet, zipped up my jacket, and snapped me into my skis—and then off he easily skated to the ski lift.

“Ummm, helllloooo? Are you going to teach me how to walk in these things?” I impatiently coo-hissed toward him as I began to helplessly slip backward—not my best moment.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the bunny slope.

Day two consisted of me wildly flying down the mountains, screeching with excitement—exhilarating. Day three, the mountain was packed with people, and I threw my body out of the way to avoid crashing into small children. This got a bit frustrating, but it’s also where my yoga practice kicked in.

I hope you can benefit from these few lessons I brought from the mat onto the mountain:

1. Noting

First, I used the Buddhist technique of noting to check in with myself and create a statement to stay in the present moment. This also helped to extract myself from tumultuous emotions that began to override my mind.

When my thoughts began to sour into, “This is stupid. I hate skiing. This really sucks,” the noting technique allowed me to take a step back and laugh at myself. I chose to be patient and let go of my high expectations for skiing.

2. Compassion

Secondly, I used compassion for myself and others to take it easy, and feel less like a failure. I’m not sure what happened on day three—maybe my skis crossed or I got caught on an edge—but I fell, again. I landed next to a woman who appeared to be about my age, and she was learning how to snowboard.

Out of the corner of my eye, I observed her totally letting her emotions take over. She was crying, having a tantrum, slamming her fists into the snow in frustration, and cursing at her partner. For just a moment, I was tempted to join her.

3. Continue to Check In

How easy would it be to submit to the heat of anger and frustration? To allow myself to be disillusioned by the small failings of myself?

Instead—thanks to my yoga practice—I recognized the real me inside, the seer and observer of all. The part of me that is always calm and still, despite what’s going on.

I empathized with the woman, and for a moment felt quite grateful for my practice and ability to pull myself out of the low-vibe feelings of fear, doubt, and frustration caused by not being able to stand, falling, and lack of body control.

4. Study your Mind 

I analyzed the world of thoughts storming in my mind for a breath, then came back to the present moment. The snow beneath me was soft but didn’t feel cold. It held me like a pillow. I took another deep breath of fresh air and waited for Ryan to come help me up.

Eventually, I figured out how to stand up after timbering down on my own. Now, I go down mountains without spilling over at all.

I never would have been able to learn this new winter sport which is so much fun in my late 20s, without the patience, I cultivated from yoga. Thank you to all teachers, Buddhist authors, and meditation practitioners for that.

~

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