Snowboarding and mindfulness go hand in hand. At least, according to pro snowboarder Jamie Anderson. Before the craziness of the Olympics set in, we got to chat with the legend herself to learn how.
This past week, I was invited to attend a mindfulness workshop session with Jamie Anderson. Yes, that Jamie Anderson — one of the most decorated female snowboarders of all time.
Anderson, who won gold in the women’s slopestyle and silver in the women’s big air in PyeongChang in 2018, became the first female snowboarder to win two medals at a single Olympics. She also won gold in slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, and she’ll return this year to Beijing to defend her title.
But behind all those achievements is a very centered, focused, humble, and spiritual athlete. Thanks to Dakine (one of Anderson’s sponsors) and Zoom, I got an inside look and feel for how Anderson mentally prepares for things like the Olympics, X Games, long backcountry missions, challenges in life, and more.
“Mindfulness has been a really important part of my life. Especially being in this action sports world, it’s a lot of masculine energy, really fast and high-paced,” Anderson said.
“When I was 17, I had a pretty traumatic injury and spent close to 2 weeks in the ICU. Through that experience, I learned a lot about gratitude, yoga, meditation, and healing your body.” For Anderson, yoga and meditation are the perfect yin to her yang.
Mindfulness Tips From Snowboarder Jamie Anderson
In our session, Anderson shared a lot of the different practices (yoga, meditation, journaling) and tools (singing bowls, prayers, essential oils, music, herbal supplements) that she uses to stay balanced. We’ve shared our favorite pieces of advice here.
Anderson’s first point of advice was to check your ego to stay grounded. Recognize your goals, but also where you are at. “Over the years, it’s been such a fun challenge to figure out the mentality part [of my sport],” said Anderson. “And you want to enjoy each moment for what it is.”
Whether it’s mountain biking, snowboarding, surfing, for Anderson, it’s all about the energy and her state of mind in that moment. Channel that.
Check In With Yourself
“I really believe a lot of my success in sports — it’s not just being physically strong — I think it’s really aligning mind, body, spirit. You can’t just be one thing,” Anderson shared.
Take a little time each day to check in with yourself and how you feel: whether you are getting ready to drop into a pipe, doing something new, or making a big career change. Also, don’t forget to be kind to yourself, in thought and practice.
Pro tip: If you have the time, try journaling when you want to focus on self-reflection. “Maybe with the COVID chaos, and growing into my 30s, having some breakdowns about the human rights issues in China right now … there’s a lot, and so I use journaling to find guidance,” Anderson said.
Try to visualize the energy around you, and breathe through it. One breathing exercise Anderson uses is pranayama.
“Sometimes I use alternate breathing. So you inhale on one side [closing off one nostril], then exhale. Then repeat on the other side,” Anderson demonstrated. “What that does is you are breathing into the alternate, the left and right hemispheres of your brain.”
The other breathing exercise Anderson practices is fast exhale breathing, which is a forced exhale of 20, 60, or 100 counts (however many you’d like) — and at the end, you exhale all that energy at once. “When things are really bad, breathing helps with the nerves,” Anderson explained.
Final Thoughts on Mindfulness in the Backcountry
Specifically, when in the backcountry and compared to being in competitions, Anderson has some extra advice. “You want to be aware of the mountains, aware of the crew that you are with, aware of your surroundings — things like avalanche danger, having your safety gear,” she said. “The contrast is really different. The mountains are powerful, and you have to respect them.”
So, what does that look like in the backcountry? Listen, slow down, be aware. And don’t forget to breathe.