Published on Nov 28, 2002 by in Uncategorized


Namaste Noble Warriors!

Life is very rich. There is much to be thankful for this holiday. Our health, first and foremost! Personal fitness constantly unfolds us…if we let it. Being thankful is a great way to unfold our deeper, Higher self.

Kathy and i vacated the venomous air of LA yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving with family in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It did not take long for me to snap back into my familiar mountain yogi groove. By 4:30 this morning, i was soaring through predawn light toward Santa Fe to go skiing. To secure the favor of the Mountain Gods, i climbed the 1,500 vertical feet of the ski area before it opened. In a little under an hour I stood against howling winds atop 12,000+� Tesuque Peak. I did this as pilgrimage …to earn my rides up the chairlift! It�s a Wholistic Fitness Warrior thing. You see, many skiers spend their entire lives skiing without ever once climbing up the slopes they so easily slide down. That to me, is not whole and smacks of spiritual ignorance. Being addicted to chairlifts is just as harmful to mastery as any addiction. One must labor with the mountain directly. Feel her snowy sheath crunch beneath frozen toes. Watch your heaving breath materialize into icy vapor. There are metaphysical reasons behind why so many skiers break bones… bones represent spiritual energy.

Don�t ever forget, yogi: One must always do the Work. There are no shortcuts. Devote yourself to difficulty to be freed from it.

Snow Yoga

I had a few precious telemark ski turns (which is like doing a deep lunge/split jump) out of the hundreds i did today where i really found my yoga. I found it in those moments when i was no longer a �skier�. Instead, i was but the crackle of cold air dancing. I was the truth of my ski edge biting the canvas of steep snow. I was my breath, inhaling and exhaling into the repeated deep lunges down the mountain face. I skied every double diamond run i could find. Did not fall once. My legs felt as strong and agile as a cougars. My lungs breathed easily in unison with my linked turns. Rarely have i felt as powerful and fluid on my skis first time out in a season. High Performance Yoga! …i didn�t call it that for nothing! Today i cashed in on all those �scuba deep� chair poses !

The outdoors has been the central call of my life and lies at the heart of my spiritual Practice. Training for and doing outdoor sports can become spiritual intention. They have for me. Winter sports especially are fundamental to my being. Ice climbing, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and winter mountaineering make up the core of what is meaningful to me. My best yoga is far removed from the yoga studio. My best yoga arises from testing my skill, strength, intensity, and endurance within the cathedral of Nature. The largest proportion of my spiritual work has been making myself feel comfortable in the vastness of nature. I want to feel as comfortable skiing down a colouir or climbing unroped up a frozen waterfall as i am sitting on a meditation cushion or sharing Calli tea with Kathy at night.

Sukha Sense

Let me clarify this notion of getting comfortable (sukha) within difficulty. Many of us began doing yoga to find more comfort in our body. Perhaps physical pain grew so great we knew we had to do something or be condemned to living in a body wracked by chronic pains and limited movement. That�s how i got into yoga.

As our yoga practice matured, we gradually learned how to relax into the intense stiffness that plagued our muscles. As our muscles began to �let go�, we happened upon a most fascinating insight…it was our mind that was limiting our ability to �let go� and surrender into a more comfortable state of being! �The body follows the mind�, as i say in my High Performance Yoga video. We learn through steadfast yoga practice (abhyasa) that within the restricted, hidden parts of ourselves lies our greatest joy! Don�t ignore that tight hamstring! Dive into it! For if we do that, new energy is released from those buried places within us in the way acorns spring into trees. By becoming comfortable with circumstances we tend to resist, our spiritual victory is scored! Just moving and breathing comfortably within our bodies is a constant state of joy. Nothing else is needed! The same is true in outdoor sports performance; relax the mind into the moment and the power of the Universe will sing through you.

So it is, on this Thanksgiving holiday, Kathy and i wish you the Highest of all yoga and the Highest of all your own personal summits! May the ecstasy of your workouts bring fierce exaltation to your desire to Rise Above! May some ancient memory of silence stir you into a sincere moment of true Thanks for all that you already have.

May you lay bare, without ego, and wonder at the fragile mystery and beauty of the most simple things…the firelight of sun, the constant kiss of wind, and acts of kindness and compassion.

I bow to you from the glimmering, snowy heights of New Mexico…Happy Thanksgiving!

coach ilg

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