Beyond Repetition

When I am feeling stuck in my mind and in the physical world I find it helpful to offer myself a pattern interruption by practicing doing things with my non-dominant side. Movement meditations like postural yoga and snowboarding are great for this.

With yoga, postures are typically practiced back and forth, stimulating and developing agility on both sides of the body, balancing out the dominance of either side. This can increase and reorganize the potential ways we habitually act and respond to circumstance. Instead of always repeating the pattern in one direction, we can move through it in the other direction too, adapting our prior experience to fit the specifics of the new situation.

It is beyond just being the opposite, as we are not fully symmetrical. In many ways the second side is like learning a separate yet related thing.

While snowboarding tends to be a one-sided activity, we can bring in this balancing, like a yoga practice, by switching back and forth which foot we have forward. At first the non-dominant side feels awkward, as we’’re doing something familiar but in a different way. Which potentially makes it feel even harder at moments then if we didn’t already know how to do it before, because we are expecting it to be the same.

It can take a bit of unhooking ourselves from trying to recreate the same experience on the second side, for although we already know how to do it on the dominant side, the second side has its own variables. When I let go of trying to make it the same, I can learn about what it actually is, and respond to that.

This can be practiced with any typically one sided activity, or any activity at all.

As we break our attachments to the familiar, creating a pattern interruption in the momentum of habitual repetition, we can learn to sense the nuances of each situation we encounter. Each moment informed yet not defined by our experiences of the past.

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Snowsports Conditioning Dynamic Balance Sequence 1

The first snow on Mount Washington, Mount Mansfield, at Jay Peak ResortStowe Mountain ResortSmugglers’ Notch ResortSugarbush ResortKillington Resort and Cannon Mountain (did I miss anyone?) inspires me to prepare myself for the upcoming snowsports season.
As skiing and snowboarding are dynamic balance practices, flow yoga and fluid movement meditation practices are useful and fun conditioning for pre-season and throughout the whole year.
This sequence is one potential of many.
If you have interest in working one-on-one or hiring me to lead a snowsports specific group yoga class, send me a message and check out the services section of this website to see some of what I have to offer.
Once again, sorry for the technology and cropping! I am working with what I have and learning as I go.

Just Enough and Not Too Much

I am generally not into slogans, although there is a Buddhist one I have heard that I think of a lot – just enough and not too much. It is kind of a Goldilocks approach to life 🙂
Practicing yoga helps me experiment with this balance on a physical, experiential level, balancing how much weight forward, how much back, where do I lift from, where do I contract, when I shift one aspect of the posture how does that affect the rest, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of it is mental, I remember the ways I have played with the posture before and cues other teachers and students have suggested to me, yet it is not only a mental thinking it out. It includes body memory and develops an awareness beyond just the thinking of the mind, beyond just the discursive thought or continuous defining of the mind, it becomes a direct felt experience of the balance that integrates and grows with me.
I am also finding this true with my experience of the continuous learning curve of skiing and snowboarding, dynamic practices of the subtleties of the shifts of weight and posture responding to the shape of the skis or board, the texture of the snow and the contours of the mountain. The practice of yoga does help support the sport in that it can be cross training to warm up and bring awareness into the body and center the mind before going on the mountain and decompressing to unwind tension, reduce soreness and recovery time and prepare the body for the next day. Yet there is also potential for utilizing yoga to refine sensitivity to the effects of stance and the subtle shift of weight in any posture and especially in ones that directly inform the body of movements used in skiing and riding, teaching our bodies how to efficiently perform these movements and giving ourself practice both on and off the hill. Perhaps beginning with mental inquiry and developing into experiential wisdom.
When I ski and ride it is very much a physical yoga practice in that I start with a variety of cues in myself that gradually build – just enough and not too much, a little bit of this and a little bit of that – until it all flows together and I am not thinking out the skiing, all my awarenesses are coming together and the skiing is happening right through me. It is kind of a sahaja approach to life, the sahaja the purely spontaneous being who has trained their body and mind to instead of compulsively react to phenomena, appropriately respond to the specifics of each situation. In the case of your sport or your art this plays out as learning and practicing the form first so then the creativity can unfold and grow through that structure. If you never learned some of the building blocks, through a teacher and/or your own mindful practice, in snowsports you’d likely just fall down the hill. Yet with practice and experiential awareness of your posture, how to read the terrain and the conditions and how subtle shifts of weight drive the edges of your equipment, the falling down the hill can become a graceful and efficient dance of balance. Just enough and not too much.
This is what I am currently into 🙂 If you’d like to play with me with it come to The Mountain Club on Loon at Loon Mountain Resort on Sunday March 13, 2016 for Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation 3/13/16 or be in touch and we can do a private with snowsports or just physical yoga – and develop a practice to support whatever sport or art you are currently into.
Love