Yoga in Niseko

During my winter stay in Niseko, I have discovered a new devotion and passion for something else other than snowboarding: yoga.

Yoga is an old Indian philosophy dated back from over 4000 years ago, which combines exercise, breathing, diet, relaxation and meditation. It is a combination of physical and mental disciplines, which help to make the body stronger and healthier, and the mind calmer and more controlled, helping towards self-realization.

Yoga is the art of skillful living, and it has many aspects. It is about getting to know yourself, integrating the many aspects of that, and giving us tools to help control our minds. The effects are holistic; it guides us to pay more attention to our health, and brings forth a change of attitude not only to ourselves, but also to the whole world around us.

My yoga instructor Kanami specializes in vinyasa, flow and yin. Watching her slip into poses during class has amazed me as I am now determined to practice yoga and learn more about the spiritual side of it as well.

Kanami asked me to come up with three targets I wanted to achieve throughout the season. I came up with three aims: I wanted to officially clear my mind about smoking (as I was an ex-smoker) and achieve a calmer mindset in general, be able to have better balance through practicing yoga, and to tone up my body.  I am now in my third month of working towards my goals and I have to say, what a difference!

In order to clear my mind of smoking, and keep it in a calmer state, Kanami recommended to practice breathing exercises and meditation. She said that practicing meditation can help you get over addictions because you are strengthening the power of your mind. This was all very new to me, and meditation was the one thing I found very difficult. To help with this I started using some mantra repetition, and this helped me concentrate much better. The breathing exercises I was introduced to were Nadi shodana and Ujjai breath, as these two practices are said to help soothe the nervous system.

My second and third aims were to practice different yoga poses in order to strengthen my balance and tone up my body. I have been practicing Warrior 1, half moon pose, and finally plank to engage my core and to strengthen it.

I can now officially say that I do not think about cigarettes anymore, my balance has dramatically improved and it helped a lot with snowboarding, and my body is strengthening and toning up!

I like to take a break from my daily life in Niseko and head to Kanami’s class in order to enjoy the present moment on my yoga mat, and feel that I am in a calm environment with people who all feel the same. Yoga is now stuck with me for life, and I will do everything in my power to practice, perfect and strengthen my poses.

Thanks Kanami for your inspiration and devoting your time to helping me achieve my goals. Your classes are a wonderful way to still the mind, learn difficult poses, and finally, a great way of relaxing with savasana at the end of the class.

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