We like to ask yogis questions… so we asked Bec Black about wellbeing, snowboarding and manifesting intentions.
An Expert on Yoga for Snow Sports
Bec Black has been an avid snowboarder for over 20 years and has experienced first hand the power of yoga to facilitate snow sports, to protect against injury, and to strengthen their powerful impact on body and mind. Bec is a talented Vinyasa Flow teacher with nearly 10 years’ teaching experience specialising in the interaction between snow sports and yoga.
Bec will be teaching yoga and meditation on our January skiing and yoga retreat. The New Year Ski Yoga Retreat is all about creating beautiful intentions for the year ahead. It will be the perfect way to detox from the Christmas party season. To learn more email firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Year Ski Yoga Retreat will be taught in both English and French.
Interview with Skiing and Yoga Retreat Instructor Bec Black
How did you find your way to teaching yoga?
I followed my husband Colin to yoga in the spring of 2000, at first quite reluctantly! The effects of years of snowboarding and many hours in office chairs had made my 25-year-old body stiff. It was time to do some stretching.
Initially I found it really difficult but I persevered, because despite finding it challenging I just felt so good – I actually felt a buzz after each class! I progressed gradually over time. At a certain point along the way I felt my whole world start to change. I had completely new eyes as well as newfound flexibility.
My mind has been blown so many times through my experience of yoga. After 5 or so years I found myself wanting to learn more to be able to share my experience. So I became a yoga teacher!
Tell us a bit about your teaching style.
My teaching style is light-hearted but goes deep. It’s authentic to my experiences and me.
For me a class is all about getting people together on their mats for a genuine experience of yoga. Creating an inviting atmosphere that supports the intention behind the class is as important as the yoga practice itself. I often burn oils, play music, and create an atmosphere where people feel they can leave their busy lives behind. If teaching outside in the mountains the magic of nature speaks for itself.
I teach Vinyasa Flow. It’s a style that flows and integrates movement with breath. It allows me to be versatile and intuitive to offer the class a practice that suits their needs and abilities. I set a focus or intention for each class to challenge the group, while at the same time creating a common sense of mindfulness. This enables me to fulfil my main aim: to give people a genuine experience of yoga.
What does ‘wellbeing’ mean to you?
For me it’s a verb requiring action. Wellbeing is a personal practice of being, and of trying to be and do our best; to own our own space and be in our space; to be fulfilled in our lives no matter what.
Wellbeing means an attempt to be kind to ourselves: eating, drinking and thinking well; moving, breathing and feeling better. When we take action towards personal wellbeing, we’re trying to be true to ourselves and to have respect for this life that we have been given by making supportive choices.
You seem to be bursting with energy, always doing yoga, snowboarding or cycling… what’s your secret?
No secret! I think I have always had a little surplus energy (it definitely wasn’t appreciated at school!) but I think it comes down to my mind-set. I really love life! I have always been driven toward doing fun things, and shining light onto the more serious aspects of life.
High energy people can sometimes come across as insensitive, so I try to remember to act and speak with kindness and be self aware at all times. My glass is rarely half empty and it comes naturally to me to see the brighter side of life. I feel so grateful, as I know outlook can be a lifelong struggle for some, and the difference between feeling light and energised or down and tired.
Above all I appreciate my life and embrace every minute I can by spending time with people, in nature, doing what I love. Yoga, snowboarding, climbing, and mountain biking help me channel and generate my energy and lust for life. When I’m ill or my energy is low I breathe, meditate, get out into nature and make little challenges for myself so I don’t get stuck in my head.
How has yoga changed the way you ride?
Massively. Physically I’m in much better shape and able to ride hard all season long, and to hike to explore the mountains for fresh lines, thanks to yoga.
Yoga has encouraged me to challenge myself, to develop new riding skills, and has enabled me to be supple enough to fall without injury.
Mentally, thanks to yoga I am more aware and conscious of where I am, and more grateful. I ride consciously in nature, with nature, and appreciate the insanely precious gift it is these days to be in a vast mountain landscape exploring the wilderness.
Thanks to yoga I am better able to manage my fears when they set in. Keeping a steady head helps me to be safer in the mountains. The breathing and focus developed by yoga are invaluable tools and create a deeper sense of self. I used to care what people thought about my riding. I started boarding in the 90s when there were hardly any girls. I used to chase the boys about but I didn’t ride like them, I wasn’t as confident on my board as I was in other areas of life. I stuck with it and thanks to yoga I am now able to comfortably ride like myself without trying to be like anyone else.
What are your thoughts on meditation?
I think meditation lies at the very centre of balanced living and wellbeing. Meditation is to me is the key to the practice of being: learning how to let go, to be still and to simply be in a space with your sensations, thoughts and feelings without any active participation. Meditation teaches pure surrender.
For me this was always the most challenging aspect of practicing yoga. It doesn’t come to me naturally. I avoided meditation for years. I’m an extrovert who likes to be active, busy and challenged. For me finding the motivation for inward-facing stillness and contemplation was a massive challenge. I’m results driven so I frequently questioned the process. I think meditation is a struggle for so many of us until we shift our approach to it.
Meditation is necessary for a balanced life. It allows us to experience a quality of being derived from stillness and surrender. It’s a quality that we can experience elsewhere, for example when totally immersed in the moment: a euphoric sunset, or getting lost in the music on a dance floor. But we can’t rely on these happenstance moments, because regular meditation is so essential for our wellbeing.
How can yoga and meditation help people manifest their intentions?
Through yoga and meditation we can experience the bliss and state of being that comes from being fully present and self-aware. We all have the ability to access this quality in our lives, but it takes practice to tap into it. By practicing yoga and meditation we can better clarify our thoughts and feelings, and gain control of how we relate to each other and our choices.
The mind is our inner engine, of conscious and subconscious thoughts, and of memories of past experiences. It shapes how we behave, how we feel, our choices and our reality all the time. Taking the time to be present with our breath, to be aware of our body and to observe our thoughts and feelings allows us to view thought patterns objectively. It can give us insight into patterns of behaviour and the actions or impulses that may arise in response to our thoughts.
Yoga and meditation create an inner space where we can accept these valuable insights, find clarity, and set meaningful intentions that will have deep and real impacts on us as individuals. It’s a space that we can come back to time and time again, to nurture intentions, to keep ourselves on track, and to empower ourselves to bring intentions to fruition.
How do you feel about the French Alps?
I LOVE the Alps! I love the shape of the mountains and their magnitude; the endless peaks and valleys are so different from any other mountain range I have ever seen.
I embrace the quirky language. I embrace all the cheese and the occasional vin rouge at lunchtime.
I don’t love that there are ridiculously delicious patisseries in every village to tempt my pesky sweet tooth! I also don’t love that despite this era of e-communications I must still write a letter to get anything done!
But all of this pales in comparison to what I love… I love how mountains make me feel so small and uncomplicated. I especially love the wildlife of the French Alps, the flora and fauna and how they change throughout each season. I respect the authenticity of the people, culture, local economy and eco systems that the local communities work so hard to maintain, despite experiencing a huge surge in tourism with the development of ski-stations.
What do you like to wear when doing yoga?
I like to be comfortable when doing yoga and I like my clothes to be breathable because I do get sweaty. For outdoor yoga, particularly in the winter, a fleecy legging is a dream along with a thermal top. It’s function over fashion for me! Although I am a sucker for a splash of colour or funky pattern. Where budget permits I like to go for an eco-friendly and ethical brand.
What should participants expect from your on the New Year Ski Yoga Retreat?
What I can say is that the yoga on this retreat will provide effective physical support to compliment your daily adventures on the snow. You’ll also be guided on an inner adventure, to embrace the mental challenges of snow sports, and to facilitate the creation of magical intentions for the year ahead. Beyond that it’s a secret! You’ll just have to come and find out.
If you’d like more information on Bec’s skiing and yoga retreat in at Chalet Rosière January click here. Alternatively click here to download the New Year Ski Yoga Retreat brochure.
More on Bec Black
To learn more about Bec Black and her unique approach to yoga and snow sports in the French Alps:
Follow her on Instagram @becsnowyoga.
We have three skiing and yoga retreats in 2017 for you to choose from:
7-14 January 2017 ~ New Year Skiing and Yoga Retreat
4-11 February 2017 ~ Live Piano Ski Yoga Retreat
11-18 March 2017 ~ Deep House Yoga and Skiing Retreat
Alex and Philip Volkers