It's day three of my snowga retreat at Falls Creek Alpine Resort in Victoria and my head is thrown back and my eyes swivelled skyward. I'm holding what is to be the penultimate pose of the day and I am filled to bursting with a heightened sense of happiness and energy.
When I finally melt to the floor and stiffen like a cadaver into the corpse pose, my teacher, Kate Taylor of The Yoga Vine, passes her hands gently over my eyes and massages my neck. "You've done so well. You've come so far," she whispers.
As I lie still, with happy tears splashing from my eyes, I think about all that the 12 individuals in this class have shared over the past few days and feel enriched by the fresh air, hours of daily exercise, healthy food and considered conversations. We have embraced the animating energy of prana – the Sanskrit word for 'life force' – in order to get the most from this, Australia's inaugural snowga retreat, designed to integrate the body, breath and the mind.
As we deepen our practice each day, our progress is rapid, and we quickly feel the benefits both on and off the mat. Each day starts with getting our downward dog on at dawn, followed by time spent schussing down the mountains at Falls Creek Alpine Resort.
It's during my first snow splat of the day, where I fall skis and legs akimbo, that I realise that the mash-up of the two sports – yoga and skiing – is a happy collision with multiple benefits. There's nothing like a few dynamic warrior poses to make you feel equipped to hold steady in a snowplough and ease the pain of creaky shoulders and stiff hips after an awkard fall.
My energy levels are up and, as the week advances, I begin to stand as tall and proud in the tree pose as the stringy barks outside our accommodation here at Tracker's Mountain Lodge. We also deepen our practice at the end of each day with sunset sequences, which conclude with a guided meditation to music followed by a light dinner and informal get-together around the fire, where Schnapps and gluhwein are optional.
The theme of the retreat – Disconnect to Reconnect – also saw our frazzled nerves further soothed by the act of switching off our phones and connecting with each other. As a newbie saying Namaste to the restorative power of a yoga holiday, what really resonated was how quickly the daily practice of skiing combined with yoga made me feel like the software of my body had had a reboot.
There are two more snowga retreats scheduled for 2016: September 4-9 with The Yoga Vine and a yin retreat on September 11-16 with Tara Fitzgibbon of Terrafirma Yoga.
More yoga inspiration:
Buoyant yoga: 4 SUP-er Spots to SUP Yoga
Pack your mat: Finding Your Bliss in Bali
Yoga retreats around Australia
Yallingup Yoga Retreat, Western Australia
Smith's Beach Resort will host an immersive three-day yoga retreat with The Yoga Vine which includes options such as surfing, SUP, hiking and winery tours.
When: September 23-26
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Queensland
This award-winning retreat offers wellness weekends that offer a mix of yin and yang activities as well as restorative meditation sessions.
When: Every weekend
Gaia Yoga Retreat, New South Wales
Enjoy daily yoga, gourmet meals, a spa experience and a range of daily activities with a two-night retreat package at the healing Gaiai Retreat & Spa on the NSW north coast.
When: Any day, year-round