Sunday, May 2, 2010
Judy Tannenhaus guest blogs National Academy!
Thanks to Judy Tannenhaus for guest posting her experience at National Academy this year!
National Academy 2010
Yoga, the Mountains, and me
YOGA is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", meaning "to control", "to yoke" or "to unite”
Wow, what a week it was. Every emotion, every last bit of strength, endurance, courage, and mental focus, was put to the test. The steeps, the conditions made it so hard for me, I wished I had been in better physical shape and better acclimated to the altitude, so I could perform at my level best, but it was what I was. I had to accept that and keep on keeping on. (Next year, I can do something about it and I will.) Still, the rewards of the experiences were beyond my expectations, the gaining of knowledge, the making friends, the reuniting and connecting with old friends, the changes in my skiing, the pushing myself to the brink, the terrifying of myself, the tumbling, the not tumbling, and afterglow you get when looking up at mountain that you just hurled yourself off of and realize what you just skied. Wow, I feel so humbled and grateful having attended this years Academy and by joining a group of awesome people that ripped the mountain and were understanding and supportive of me. I also owe many thanks to my coach, who patiently believed in me, when I did not, and gave up his first tracks in fresh powder to make sure I made it down. I am sincerely grateful; David Oliver, you rock!
The person I have became during these days surprised me, wow! I rocked it and met my fears head on, absolutely with the help of my friends and coaches. They all looked out for me and made me believe in me. They even hooted and hollered when I kicked it! What I also gained was a profound respect for myself, how can you put a price on any of that? National Academy 2010 was truly priceless.
“Yoga on the Mountain”, to me describes the benefit I received this week. I got a glimpse, a taste, a chance to experience the “control”, and to “unite” with and become a part of the mountain, the group, wow, what a thrill. The beauty all around me, the blue skies, fresh air, wind, snow spray, sounds were all part of my reward. I got to be there, in the moment, reveling in the mountain experiences. It just amazed me that life could be that good and it was that good. I had a blast!
I’d like to share one particular experience in this five day event that was really stands out. On the second afternoon of our week, my elective was the video critique. We all gathered around and were introduced to our coach, Andy Docken. There were only four of us, how cool!! Excitedly, we rode up the tram, chatting and anticipating the afternoon. The plan was to go off the front side, stop and video four times on different terrain/conditions. It was fun, I felt really blessed to have Andy as my coach, and to get feedback from another National team member. We made our run under epic blue skies on sweet terrain, albeit I was kind of uptight on the steep part. It was pushed around snow and I was not sure that it had softened up to its more malleable state. Andy picked up on it said some kind encouraging words that set me at ease. Our run was fun, and before we knew it, we were indoors watching ourselves ski. We saw the whole video and of coursed critiqued ourselves in silence. My mind was saying, hmm, nice, wow, cool, oops, yikes, stuff like that. I was light hearted and ready to have Andy’s highly trained, experienced, eye critique me, so that I could work on becoming a better skier. He chose a segment of our run and individually critiqued us. He first asked us all what we were working on, and what we saw in our skiing on that video. He gave us information on our movements, which was useful for all; he then became more specific with each of us. He showed us the correct movements, body alignments and the muscle group or groups we’d need to feel while performing it correctly, and the effect of that move, position, or posture on the skis. He told us which body joints, muscle groups, how it should feel and purpose for it all. I was so psyched when I left. I reviewed the experience in my head as I scooted up to my room to get it all written down. Wow, what a critique, it coincided with what I was currently focused on, and pointed out something more that made so much sense to me. I can see where it holds me back and prevents me from raising my skiing skills to the next level. These were the finer points of my skiing, the fine tuning after the years of practice, PSIA clinics, and coaching. I felt great to be at this point in my skiing, it was coming together for me.
The next day, I had signed up for the carving elective in the afternoon. I was so looking forward to putting my new ski movements, and posture, and thoughts to the mountain snow. I stood by the group that was less aggressive, hoping to do some serious self revisions that afternoon. We were at the halfway point in the academy and the last 2 and 1/2 days of skiing for the whole season. I wanted to go out, improved, reworked, and become exhausted, before I hang the skis up for the season. I looked around and to my surprise Andy Docken was part of the carving coaches. Wow, I greeted him and he invited me to come in his group. This was magical. He introduced me as his new bff to others and fun groups were formed. Off we went, we took a warm up on the mineral basin’s groomer, Andy watched us from halfway down the hill and told me to find a spot for the group to pull over. I did. My new sensations were cool, stabilizing, seeking momentum in my mind and using the energy to my advantage. I cruised pretty fast, but never really felt uncomfortable with it. Yee ha, I liked what I was feeling, and what it was doing for me I will work keep it as I have so many times over. We spent the afternoon, describing and playing with the carved ski. On different terrain we used different type of edge angles on our skis, always trying to start from the lowest body joint and work our way up our joints including my spine. We smeared our turns, we tried a racer’s carve, high in the turn, middle, low all the ways we could depending on terrain. At the end of the day, Andy said that he did not expect me to make that change so quickly, but I had done well. I told him thanks, and that I used every tool he gave me.
My plan is to continue to train, despite the fact that my skis are hung up for the season, I will be watching videos, keeping in good physical shape, and focusing on the areas that I need to in order become a better skier. I’ll also be hoping the ski seasons come early this winter and that I can soon be on snow again picking up where I have left off. I will be remembering, incorporating, improving and smiling all the while, as my experience becomes richer, and more refined and tuned with the mountain and its demands. I seek to be one with it again, at some future moment in time, somewhere and many times over again.