Cat From The Mat

Ready, Steady, Grow

I was first introduced to downhill skiing when I was three years old, while in Switzerland.    Over the next four decades, I only had a few chances to revisit my snow legs.  From the lack of practice, I have never truly gotten the hang of it. However, I love to watch the fluid beauty of skiers who know how to intimately carve into the snow and waltz down the mountain.

Earlier this year, I was invited to teach yoga in Switzerland.  During my visit, I surprisingly found myself once again wearing a pair of skis, facing the fear of how to safely get down an intermediate level ski run in the Swiss Alps.   I had an excellent guide to show me the ropes, but negotiating the descent brought up the challenge of how to accommodate an ever-changing terrain.


My general understanding of skiing is simply this:  when I point my skis downhill, I pick up speed.  When I traverse and/or move up the mountain, I can slow down and even stop.  This makes me wonder about my relationship with the topography of life.

When things are moving along with velocity, how do I adjust?  If it’s moving too quickly, do I get taken along for the bumpy ride and perhaps feel disempowered?  Do I dig my heels in and refuse to move, to my own detriment?  Or can I find a way to tap into the pull of gravity while knowing that I have the capacity to regulate my own journey?  

Trust and security seem to be key factors.  When I can confidently handle the acceleration, I welcome the ups and downs.  Knowing that I have the ability to slow down, change direction, or even stop, helps me maneuver such mountainous relief with balanced participation.  This nurtures self-assurance and agency.

A yogin is someone who learns to ski along the territory within.  That prowess is also applied to the external world.  There are times to resist or halt, in order to regroup.  There are also opportunities where letting go to move quickly can be exhilarating and bring relinquished ease.  Ultimately, it’s a practice of knowing what any context demands, pressing both the accelerator and brake in optimal amounts.

In ski terms, a fall line is the path of natural descent from one point on a slope to another.  The journey of life can be just as uncomfortable, circuitous, and even treacherous.   Yoga invites you to carve your own trail with discernment.  In any season, I encourage your inner skier to hit the slopes and venture along the peaks and valleys, one inner ascent at a time. 

Happy Trails,

Cat From the Mat

June 2016