As a former competitive athlete in cross-country skiing, I know what diligence and consistency are. Without regular training, passion and the necessary portion of heart and soul, an athlete does not get far. But away from sport. Thanks to regularity, we can develop fun in any activity in everyday life, because regularity brings consistency, practice and finally progress.
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The Interview: move the body, still the mind with Ursina Badilatti
As a professional skier, Ursina Badilatti’s days were consistent: equal parts eating, training and sleeping, the same routine, day-in, day-out. Flights, training camps and world cup events added variety, sure. But during her 15-year cross-country career, during which she earned a 3rd place finish at the Engadin ski marathon and various Swiss championship titles, her mind and body felt disconnected.
“When I was competing, I was only focused on moving the body, but my mind was in a thousand different places,” Badilatti explains from her home in Samedan, a condition she says is normal for most people. “You can’t train robotically long-term and expect to perform better.”
Now retired from cross-country competition, Badilatti remains active, skiing regularly in winter. Leading up to 2015, she started practicing yoga more. Her interest in sport, movement and mindfulness and a desire to live abroad took her to Berlin and then California where she earned her yoga teacher training designation. Through yoga, she says, she created a ledger with herself, equal parts mind and body.
“The mat is a mirror,” she says, “it reveals good habits and bad. Stilling the mind through yoga is an often-overlooked aspect of performance.”
Badilatti now combines her passion for yoga with her pedigree as a professional cross-country skier. She offers regular online, weekend retreats that combine skiing and yoga in the Engadin valley, and also coaches select athletes on connecting mind, body and performance.
As evidence of the benefits of yoga, both physical and mental, Badilatti reflects on the year she spent in Berlin. In November 2016, she came back to Switzerland to teach skiing in Davos. It was the first time she’d seen snow in more than 12 months.
“I never felt so great on skis,” she recalls. Her pelvic and hamstring flexibility was improved and better than it had been as a professional. The feeling of weightlessness and strength as she skied, more deliberate, too.
In that moment, the thoughts built throughout her daily practice solidified; the relationship between mindfulness (achieved through yoga, breathing and other techniques) and sport, clearer than ever.
Today she still has a handful of connections within the Swiss ski federation but can’t say how many federation athletes make yoga an active part of their schedules. One of her goals is to help athletes find balance and build strength in mind and body as a means of improving their performance.
“Athletes and everyday athletes always slot in time to train, but never enough time to recover,” she adds. “There are so many ways to do it, and so many ways it helps you perform. Ultimately when you are competing, yoga acts as the ultimate reset button.” A place to connect mind, body and movement – something anyone can benefit from.
Connect with Ursina @ursina.ch or on her website. Photos: @frency_soli.
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