5 Steps Toward Mindful Cross-Country Skiing

It’s snow globe time in Lake Placid. This means soft twinkling lights in every shop, toasty outdoor fires, rich hot cocoa, and aromatic balsam. Skiing though, tops the list for many of those native and local to the area.

On the surface cross-country (x-c) skiing is what it sounds like- fun exercise; popping two boards onto your feet and sliding across the snowy earth. Depending on your experience with x-c skiing this can be somewhat difficult. I can assure you though, that with a small amount of dedicated time it will become a thoroughly enjoyed practice.

As a beginner the focus should be on staying balanced. As you begin to find your center, skiing will become less of an outward focus and more of an inward focus. There are uncountable number of steps that one can take toward this inward focal mindful skiing. I have gathered 5 that have helped me in my personal journeys.

1. Synchronize Breathing with Strides
Incorporating breathing into every physical activity has completly changed my perspective and ability. Breathing deeply naturally calms the body and gives it a nourishing treat of fresh oxygen. Especially in the middle of beautiful and aromatic evergreen trees of the Adirondacks, full of year long life.
A strategy that works for me is to incorporate breathing into my strides. Each stride is either a breath in or out. Each single breath might take more than one stride, it’s about your own personal comfort and speed. Work at this technique and practice to find your rhythm; stick to a rhythm that feels comfortable and calming.

2. Correct Form
Now you are in the middle of the woods, balanced, and breathing, a short list of lovely things for your body, mind, and soul. At this point sliding woods should be enjoyable and relaxing.  Practicing good form is another step toward relaxing in your practice and getting internal focus accomplished. In everyday life good form comes from better posture, deeper breathing, and steady focus. These things can be accomplished by applying them while skiing. Good form in x-c skiing is an athletic stance with feet shoulder width apart. Glide as if you are moving on an elliptical. Use your right ski with left pole and the opposite to ensure easiest forwarding motion. And lastly, always tighten your abs for extra control with winter sports. Eventually you should be feeling in a meditative state of focusing on your breathing and movements being paired.

3. Extend Mind and Body
Once you’ve accomplished a form that feels comfortable it’s time to push yourself a little bit, yes push yourself! Relaxing your mind comes with some element of also extending your mind, so metaphorically we’re going to tie together extending the mind and extending the body. Think about reaching for your future, and being mindful of challenge. Extending body-extending mindfulness. While reaching for your goals remember to extend your legs and arms just a bit further. This will be difficult but rewarding. It’s a better work out and much more fun. Your body and mind will thank you dearly.

4. Address Adversity
We got through all of that. We are balanced, we are breathing in sync with life, we have better form and posture, and we are extending toward a mindful challenge. Now the real challenge has officially arrived. Whatever this challenge may be, something going on in personal life or work life, getting better at skiing, etc, this will be embraced by your ability to set aside these issues and focus on your inner self. Embrace aches and pains on the ski, embrace recent emotions, and hardships, and then let them go as you extend toward your future goals. This adversity is important to teach us to push ourselves, even just a little. There will be difficult sections, you will fall, and you will get tired, but this will help to prepare you for all of life’s little curveballs. Being able to return yourself to balanced posture and steady breathing will help on your ski and every day. Begin again slowly, and allow for pride in pushing yourself far enough to fall. Staying in a comfort zone keeps us in the same place forever. Those practicing their hardest are going to fall, and we will deem these falls a vision of success.

5. Create Goals
The last and most important step of this mindful skiing session are the goals that are created along the way. I personally use my outdoor activities to allow for something that has really been pressing my mind to come to fruition and work itself out. For me there’s nothing better than a good sweat in the middle of the woods for figuring out my life’s problems. X-c skiing is a great example of this not only because of its exercise, but its connection to the earth right between the trees. You’re surviving with what you’ve brought- which better be adequate at best!- and you’re surrounded by your thoughts. Don’t let the thoughts overwhelm and create tension. Try to best understand the feelings present and create goals based on those feelings. From there move forward with your balance and breathing as discussed. Ski faster or ski with better mindfulness, whichever makes you happiest! Whatever the case may be, make it calming, and make it about you. These are steps toward self-understanding! Love yourself first. 🙂

Hugs & Backpacks,
Bee