picture credit – www.philipvolkers.com

Why is yoga so good for the mountain lifestyle?

Mountain culture and lifestyle is uniquely charged. We experience a powerful exchange from the interplay of human endeavours in these skyscraping landscapes.

We are inspired to challenge ourselves daily with endless activities. We dig out our paths when the snow falls, we chop wood for our fires, we hike, ski and snowboard, rock climb, mountain bike and so much more.  A whole lot of fun, challenge and adventure to be had but all of which takes its toll on the body and mind.

Yoga is the counter-balance.  Yoga prepares and repairs us for the mountain lifestyle.  It keeps us physically able while developing a mountain mindset.  And a mountain mind brings a sweet quality to our endeavours and a deeper connection to ourselves, each other and the environment around us.

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.

I think that collectively, both yoga and the mountain lifestyle bring to us a sense of freedom, respect and joie de vivre that enables us to feel truly at home in the mountains and in ourselves.

What brought you to the slopes?
True love!

Might sound cheesy but Mr Black brought me to the slopes almost 20 years ago. He’d been skiing the Scottish ski- hills from age 10 and was mad into snowboarding when I met him in the mid 90s. Clearly I had to try it and share in the stoke of this relatively new sport.

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. The views were incredible, the snow was soft and the sun was blazing. Amongst those endless horizons my outlook completely changed.

With a one track mind I dreamed of making the mountains our home.  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’.

How do you make your living in the French Alps?

I teach yoga in the mountains.

There’s a great appetite for yoga amongst the mountain community for all the reasons mentioned above.  Over time we have formed a lovely yoga community with a schedule of weekly classes around Bourg St Maurice and Les Arcs.  I also teach private group sessions, workshops, events and yoga retreats.

I never set out to run a yoga business – I was always motivated to let it unfold organically without any particular business strategy as it was less about making money and more about sharing an authentic mountain yoga experience in compliment to our mountain lifestyle.

What do you love about living / working here?

I love:

that it’s a simple life

that nature is boss.  We keep it real.  That’s a welcome detachment from the man-made pace we experience in our cities and towns.

that we drink wine at lunch time.

the camaraderie, the connection between people with a common love of the mountains and mountain culture.

Cheese! I love cheese. Especially locally produced by happy mountain cows and goats.

the French language – so sultry, so quirky and so seemingly impossible to master. Teaching yoga in French is a fun way for me to learn. And if all else fails there’s always Sanskrit ….  😉

I love that we can do yoga outside with such powerful and engaging backdrops – the mountains make the best yoga studios.

Ski or board? Snowboarding!

Summer or winter? Gah… Both!… I’m probably more a summery kind of girl but I’m going to say winter because winter in the mountains is un-missable.  Where-as I can embrace all the qualities of summer wherever I am.

Favourite yoga move? I don’t have an all-time favourite 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.  These are all in the favourites bag….

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon)

Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand)

Urdhva Padmasana (Upward lotus pose)

Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)

Astavakrasana (8-angle arm balance)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel)

Also in the favourites bag is a very simple but energising sequence called the Five Tibetan Rites – I was introduced to it in North India in 2006 and ever since it’s how most of my days begin.  It offers a balanced physical warm up with an energizing buzz – my favourite way to start the day.

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.

SNOWGA is also a multi-national mountain community. For me it’s all about the people-connection.  Another kind of après-ski.  Another way for locals, foreign residents, seasonnaires and holiday makers to mingle, stretch, decompress and detangle together. To be challenged and inspired by each other.