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Snow & Yoga: It’s all about balance

Snow & Yoga: It’s all about balance

By Nat Fox

We’re all aware of the benefits yoga brings to surfing, but what about how it benefits our activities in the snow? Will practicing the mountain pose actually improve our mountain prowess? We ask three inspiring teachers who are pioneering the world of yoga in the French Alps: why is yoga so good for the mountain lifestyle?

BALANCE BEC
What brought you to the slopes?

True love! Might sound cheesy but Mr Black brought me to the slopes almost 20 years ago. I
took my first turns on an August day in 1998 on the glacier in Tignes. I quite literally felt like I was
on top of the world. Amongst those endless horizons my outlook completely changed. 8 years
later we honeymooned for the winter in Les Arcs. That was my first snowboard season and the
start of a new lifestyle that redefined ‘winter’ to mean ‘mountain time’.

Ski or board?

Snowboarding!

Favourite yoga move?

I like to pull shapes that challenge my balance and perspective and I love to play with the feelings
that come from being in a yoga pose. In particular the feeling of freedom or float that comes from
balancing poses or being upside-down.

Why is yoga so good for the mountain lifestyle?

Mountain culture and lifestyle is uniquely charged. Here in the French Alps the mountains are so
immense forcing an enlivening impression on us. We are empowered and improved by the
challenges of the mountain lifestyle. Likewise we are empowered and improved from the
challenges on our yoga mat.

Tell us about …. “SNOWGA”

SNOWGA is a style of yoga that I’ve developed to compliment skiing, snowboarding and the
mountain mindset in winter. The aim is to Move better, Feel better and Slide better by blending
teaching points derived from my 3 main passions – Snowboarding, Yoga and Nature. It’s a
dynamic yoga style that integrates movement with breath to create a feeling of flow – much like
the flow we vibe with when riding the fall-line in our mountain sports.

Soulla Demetriou
Soulshine Snow Yoga Adventures

What brought you to the slopes?

I’ve been skiing since I was six and have always been a lover of adventures with a passion for adventure, travel, nature, the mountains and a healthy dash of adrenaline! I began Soulshine Snow Yoga Adventures to chase the dream of winter fun. During summer we run retreats in our home in Ibiza and in the winter we head to the mountains. 2018 will be our 5th winter season.

Why is Yoga so good for the mountain lifestyle?

Yoga is the perfect practice to wake up the body for a day on the mountains and stretch it out at the end of the day. Focussed poses and a regular practice can build strength, flexibility and endurance to maximise time playing on the mountains and avoid injuries. With a focus on the breath, Yoga can also help to maximise the body’s ability to perform at lower oxygen levels found at altitude. Bringing an attitude of mindful compassion can help us strike the balance between finding our edge to improve our performance and letting it come from a place of kindness and compassion, taking care of ourselves rather than being driven by a strong inner critic.

What do you love about living / working here?

I love being surrounded by the overwhelming presence of nature and feeling it’s ever shifting nature. I love how my breath can be taken away each day by the natural beauty. I love that I get to do what I love – teaching Yoga and facilitating beautifully empowering, transformational and fun experiences and then get to play on the mountains. I love the view from my office. I love how alive I feel in the mountains.

Favourite yoga move?

All restorative heart opening poses, a cheeky Ashtavakrasana and I love Wild Thing to get the heart opened and the energy flowing.

Charlotte Saint Jean
Yoga Chez Moi, Yoga With Altitude, Val d’isere

What brought you to the slopes?

Initially my love of skiing, then I fell in love with my ski instructor with whom I had two children with and although we are no longer married we are still great friends and still share a love for this region. For the past 15 years I have been teaching yoga up here.

Why is yoga so good for the mountain lifestyle?

The mountains represent an incredible reminder of the strength, magnificence and power of nature. They command respect, they quietly stand in the beauty and strength and provide an incredible back drop for meditation and yoga practice. Yoga is all about union and harmony – the inner & outer balance, the marriage of strength and flexibility. What better way to practice than with nature’s reminder permanently in front of you.

Tell us about The Val d’Isere Yoga Festival…

The festival was a vision, a dream for many years. When I started yoga here there was none! No teachers, no classes, nothing. Big round eyes when I mentioned it, so 15 years ago – and even 5 when the first festival happened – they didn’t quite get it. We are now in our fifth year which I find staggering. I am deeply proud of myself for creating this event and thankful to Val d’Isère for supporting it and to my friends, family and teachers for being there for me each year for the three days of incredible energy.

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