We all know that the only way to truly prepare for Winter sports is to get out there and do them. Whether you are heading to Heavenly or Kirkwood, Squaw or Sierra at Tahoe, Yoga Asana and Pranayama as well as mindful practices can help you to feel strong, safe and aware while out on the snow. Try out these simple practices to help you enjoy this year's season. You won't regret it.
1) Asana (Poses)
There are many Yoga asana (poses) that can help you to strengthen as well as recover from your day out on the slopes. An experienced and knowledgeable instructor will be able to guide you through theses poses and teach you how to use them in a way that helps you prepare for your day out, then release afterward.
Yudrasana (Lunge) - raising and lowering between high and low lunges.
Deviasana (Goddess) - holding, and also shifting your upper body from side-to-side.
Virabhadrasana Dvi (Warrior Two) - holding, as well as rotating.
Parsvottanasana - intense side stretch.
Supta Virasana - reclined hero
Svastikasana - auspicious pose/reclined twist variation
2) Pranayama (Conscious Breath)
If you’re heading out to the resort you are unlikely to be the only one doing so. You can prepare for and remain relaxed while sharing the mountain by applying a simple breathing techniques. Not only will they help you to remain calm and patient in lift lines. Pranayama practices can also help you to reduce stress levels while you are out and about traveling and visiting the area.
Victorious/Powerful Breathing (Ujjayi):
Breathe in and out of your nose only.
Constrict the back of your throat slightly so that your breath is audible to you, only.
Feel your breath as it moves in and out of your throat.
Slow your breathing down so that each inhale and exhale is as long as you can make it.
3) Dharana (Mindful Practice)
We can easily become caught up in the cycle of activity and buzz around us while we are out on the slopes. There are people moving everywhere and in every direction. It’s a good idea to step out of the way, look around, and observe our circumstances every once in a while.
Be sure to follow these simple mountain rules to keep yourself and others safe:
-Move to the side of the trail if you need to stop for any reason. While waiting for friends, fixing your gear or taking a break, move out of the way of those who are riding.
-Be considerate of others by keeping your backpack, poles and gear close to your body while moving around or riding the lift. Wear headphones if you like to listen to music and keep the volume at a level that still allows you to hear the liftee and those around you in the case that someone is trying to get your attention.
-Stay in control of yourself, even if your friends are bombing down the slope ahead of you. Most of us don’t get to ski every day. Honor your abilities and be honest about how much control you really have over your board or skis. Everyone, including that 5-year-old grom crushing it on the bumps will have more fun when staying in control.
Find a spot on the side of the trail, pull up a chair, or head into the lodge and relax for a few minutes. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Enjoy the crisp air and the swish of others sliding by.
To learn more about the poses, breath work and mindfulness practices that keep Jenay peaceful during Tahoe Winter visit LakeTahoeYoga.com.
As a Yoga studio, our job is to share knowledge, experience and philosophies about Yoga. Our hope is that you, our practitioners, will absorb what we share and eventually, begin to do the same. There is a middle ground, though, for all of this. You see, we all have to practice and our practice is more than just what we do in the studio. It is the generalization of the skills we learn in class into our lives. It is a lifestyle.
You are Me
Have you felt the effects of your practice? To find Yoga is to find your Self. In order to get there, you have to restrain (Yamas) your wants and observe (Niyamas) your needs. The way you treat yourself should be reflected in how you treat others. And, if you see yourself as spiritual, holy, god-loved, etc. then you will see all others in this way.
Restrain, Direct, Control
Every posture is a demonstration of the practice of Yama. We move with intention trying to retain the position prescribed in any way that our bodies are able. We can generalize this practice into our lives through the Yamas.
The Yamas are five-fold: Truth, Helping, Generosity, Moderation and Sharing. Living your life with the intention of retaining these aspects of Yoga can shift our perspective and have an effect on others. Imagine if everything you did was guided by these principals. What would you do differently?
Observe, Reflect, Realize
Pranayama practices are tools designed to focus and limit our thoughts. These breathing techniques include a count of breaths, length of each, pauses between and various aspects of mudra or mantra. These techniques are the first step in establishing Niyama.
Niyama are five-fold: Purity, Contentment, Self Study, Dedication and Devotion. These practices direct our attention toward our own habits. We live life based upon memories, experiences, wants and desires. Our thoughts and actions are a demonstration of subconscious karma. To practice Niyama is to practice treating yourself well. The more you do so, the better you will treat others.
Shift, Adjust, Change
Our continued practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama ultimately leads us toward the additional four limbs: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
The more we live a lifestyle of Yama and Niyama, maintain our physical health through Asana and consciously breathe the less our attention will be drawn to distraction (pratyahara).
Allowing ourselves opportunities to spend time alone, in quiet spaces allowing our minds to be directed by rhythmic breathing or sound vibrations, the better we become at focusing upon that which is important (dharana).
Silencing the chatter of useless thoughts, detaching from toxic people and environments, recognizing that which we can control and letting things happen as they will while remaining present becomes natural (dhyana).
Eventually, we will settle into contentment and recognize that we are each a tiny droplet in the ocean of the universe (samadhi).
How many times have you said "I will," "I'm going to," "Soon I'll," etc.? How many times have you failed to follow through on those intentions? A famous quote that I often call upon when life frustrates me is "the only consistent thing about life is change." Our Yoga practice is all about changing. We have to be willing to create and allow change to occur.
As part of our practice of Yoga we meditate. We take the time to sit and, maybe, find silence within. For some of us the chatter can seem overwhelming and it can feel as though we will never ever find silence. I'm sure you're thinking right now, "what does she know, she teaches Yoga." Feel free to jump inside my head one day, I assure you that running a Yoga studio and working at a school does not increase my inner silence. But, my efforts have shown considerable progress.
This month, as we focus on listening for our most heartfelt desire, our deepest intention, I encourage you to practice mediation. We need to be able to listen to ourselves. We need to hear our own hearts and spirits. We need to kick out the ego and the judgment and the voices of others. Take the time to listen to what's within you. You may find that change is not so hard to take.