Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's in a Name?



Like surfing, I’ve found skiing an apt metaphor for the spiritual life. If you move in harmony with the vital forces, you’re rewarded with a deeply joyous experience. If you fight the vital forces, you get schooled in the error of your ways.

This observation was pointedly brought to my attention during a ski trip with my good friend Steve many years ago. We were enjoying epic spring conditions at Loveland Basin. The snowpack was stable, the sun high in the sky and there was virtually no wind nor crowds. (For front-range Colorado, this is a rare and precious alignment!)

Despite the near-perfect conditions, I was flailing on my skis. At the time, backcountry skis were skinny, stiff and arrow-straight. To turn with any poise, you had to align yourself with gravity, the snow and the contours of the mountain with little margin for misinterpretation. As the day progressed, my skiing fell from bad to worse. The worse I skied (grandiose spills that looked like hillside yard sales), the more cautious I became.

After enduring my umpteenth crash, it became clear something had to shift. For whatever reason, the sound of hot cocoa at fireside paled in comparison to the mountain at hand. My relationship with that mountain, however, was clearly pathological. Given that the mountain was going to remain a mountain, it seemed incumbent I change my approach to things, as the mountain was unlikely to participate in couple’s counseling with me.

As I rode the T-bar lift to the summit, I realized my approach that morning had been to fight the mountain - to resist the interplay of gravity, the snow and the contours of the land. If I were to find redemption, it could only come by relinquishing my attempts at controlling the situation.

As we alighted from the T-bar, I pointed my clattering, skinny little telemark skis down the hill and built up a head of steam. Once I’d fully accepted gravity’s pull I began to arc the skis into turns. To my joy and delight, turn after turn began linking together! The more I surrendered, the easier things became. What I’d previously viewed as a precariously small window of opportunity, (staying atop those skinny skis) opened into an expansive experience that rivaled the view from the summit!

The rest of the day was an absolute hoot. We explored various lines, scoped out untracked snow and skied until we were absolutely exhausted. It turned out to be one of my favorite ski days in over three decades of skiing.

This day also became the inspiration to name this approach to yoga Alignment Yoga. When we align ourselves with nature’s forces, we are richly rewarded. When we fight the vital forces of nature, it’s a difficult battle that we’re certain to lose.

When you watch someone move at ease with gravity, the posture is effortlessly elegant. When you watch someone battling gravity to simply stand up straight, it looks forced and contrived. Alignment Yoga provides the tools to find this harmonious alignment with the vital forces of nature, of which gravity is but one. 


Namaste,
Scott
www.alignmentyoga.com




I’ve found skiing, like surfing, an apt metaphor for the spiritual life. If you move in harmony with the vital forces, you’re rewarded with a deeply joyous experience. If you fight the vital forces, you get schooled in the error of your ways.

This observation was pointedly brought to my attention during a skiing trip with my good friend Steve many years ago. We were enjoying epic Spring conditions at Loveland Basin. The snowpack was stable, the sun high in the sky and there was virtually no wind nor crowds. (For front-range Colorado, this is a rare and precious alignment!)

Despite the near-perfect conditions, I was flailing on my skis. Looking back at that day, it’s hard to believe we ever skied with any élan, as the skis of the day look virtually unusable in comparison to today’s blink-you-turn equipment. At the time, backcountry skis were skinny, stiff and arrow-straight. To turn ‘em with any poise, you had to align yourself with gravity, the snow and the contours of the mountain with little margin for misinterpretation. The worse I skied (grandiose spills that looked like hillside yard sales), the more tentative I became. As the day progressed, my skiing fell from bad to worse.

After enduring my umpteenth crash, it became clear something had to shift. For whatever reason, the sound of hot cocoa at fireside paled in comparison to the mountain at hand. My relationship with that mountain, however, was clearly pathological. Given that the mountain was a mountain, it seemed incumbent I change my approach to things, as the mountain was unlikely to participate in couple’s counseling with me.

As I rode the T-bar lift to the summit, I realized my approach had been to fight the mountain; to resist the interplay of gravity, the snow and the contours of the land. If I were to find redemption, it could only come by relinquishing my attempts at controlling the situation. As we alighted from the T-bar, I pointed my clattering, skinny, little telemark skis down the hill and built up a head of steam. Once I’d fully accepted gravity’s pull I began to arc the skis into turns. To my joy & delight, turn after turn linked together! The more I surrendered, the easier things became. What I’d previously viewed as a precariously small window of opportunity (staying atop those skinny skis) had opened into an expansive experience that rivaled the view from the summit!

The rest of the day was an absolute hoot. We explored various lines, scoped out untracked snow and skied until we were absolutely exhausted. It turned out to be one of my favorite ski days in over three decades of skiing!

This day also became the inspiration to name this approach to yoga Alignment Yoga. When we align ourselves with nature’s forces, we are richly rewarded. When we fight the vital forces of nature, it’s a difficult battle that we’re sure to lose.

When you watch someone move at ease with gravity, the posture is effortlessly elegant. When you watch someone battling gravity to stand up straight, it looks forced and contrived. Alignment Yoga provides the tools to find this harmonious alignment with the vital forces of nature, of which gravity is but one.

3 comments:

Lovely Bunny said...

Quote: "(grandiose spills that looked like hillside yard sales)"

This is a wonderful simile.

Resolve Headaches said...

Thanks for explaining alignment Yoga.It is very helpful at time when most things fail to use this as a very important tool for cure.

Aotea Yoga said...

Thank you for this post. This is really helpful information we got from this article about Alignment yoga.