“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
The idea to write a book about Yoga for Skiers started as a copy writing exercise during a business and marketing course I was taking as I was starting up my company The Spiritual Skier. The goal of the project was just to write a five page document that would help identify me as an expert on yoga for skiers to boost brand credibility. I absolutely did not intend for it to become a three year research project that would result in a full scale one hundred page book but that is sort of what happened by accident.
It turns out I had a lot to say on the subject. I spent the first summer crafting an elegant framework for communicating my ideas about how yoga, as a physical practice, had helped me personally achieve important milestones in my skiing progression. I took the five skiing skills, right out of the Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance (CSIA) manual, consolidated them into four and overlaid four complimentary yoga practices. The result was four chapters titled Feel, Align, Power & Flow.
I was really happy with this conceptualization. However, the more I wrote the more questions erupted in my mind. Questions like, how do I really know that practicing hip opening yoga postures will help skiers pivot? Beyond my own anecdotal experience how can I provide evidence of a correlation? Does foam rolling really do anything and if so what? What is pressure control anyway? This all started as simple innocent curiosity and then evolved into a full blown obsession.
I started to research a broad range of topics spanning a wide array of subjects from biology to physics. I interviewed people who literally wrote the manual. I rededicated myself towards my ski training and attended every yoga teacher training workshop I could all in an effort to validate my theories about yoga for skiers.
Then I went to India. Up to that point I had been practicing and teaching yoga primarily as physical exercise. I had some basic knowledge of meditation and eastern philosophy that had served me well in the past but my overall conceptualization of yoga was fragmented and incomplete. That is until I experienced the complete system of yoga attending my second Yoga Teacher Training intensive at Rishikesh Yog Peeth. When I returned home I knew I needed to rewrite much of the book. But I didn't mind at all because I was so fascinated and renewed in my love for the practice.
I learn that yoga is an ancient system for altering perception towards the lofty goal of attaining a view of reality that is transcendent. I learned how yoga engenders the practitioner with a set of cognitive tools that are extremely adaptive for living life at the peak of ones potential and, dare I say, becoming a little superhuman. I started to see the pursuit of mastery in sports like skiing as a very similar path with the same becoming a little superhuman outcome.
This prompted an expedition down the rabbit hole of perception, neuroscience, religion and mysticism. I poured over the works of Abraham Maslow on Peak Experience and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work on Flow State. I studied several of the ancient texts on yoga. I became my own guinea pig in a series of experiments pushing my edge skiing big mountain lines and going deep into my meditation practice.
All the while I had started teaching yoga & ski retreats, workshops and private sessions. During the process of researching and writing this book I had undoubtably become a better Ski Instructor and Yoga Teacher. My own learning and performance both as a skier and yogini had accelerated. All this was a terrific bonus but I was most gratified to see the positive impact this work had on my students. The results exceeded even my wildest expectations as a small community started to form around the idea of The Spiritual Skier.
Then my life exploded. You can read all about it in this blog post. This was the ultimate fire test of all that I had learned, practiced and integrated into my life. In the course of a single year I faced not one, not two but three potentially devastating shocks with a stoic determination not to let it throw me off my course. During this time the mountains were my medicine, yoga was the firm foundation that held up my sense of self and skiing was a boundless expression of my commitment towards living an ethos of love, play and the pursuit of awe.
While recent crisis have not been able to dislodge me from this course they have changed the timetable for the book. Instead of self publishing a collated ebook on Amazon I have decided to publish key sections of interest on my blog that will act as the perfect accompaniment to the 2015/16 ski season. I will publish one a week over twenty six weeks starting November 1st.
You can access each post by visiting my website blog page every Sunday starting November 1st or, for your convenience, you may subscribe to receive the 26 part series completely for free by clicking on the link below.