SNOWGA: The Wellness Experience Taking the Alps by (Snow)Storm
Anyone who has had a winter holiday in the French Alps will attest to the fact that the mountains glistening with snow make for a phenomenal sight. However, nowadays many people travel to the Alps to not only see the views but to also connect with nature and experience the stillness and energy of the mountains.
Aurélia Chrétien Pomès, co-director of Elite Ski Team, a company that provides bespoke ski lessons and physical therapy, has launched SNOWGA, a unique holistic experience for those that want to enjoy the mountains differently.
Aurélia spent her childhood split between spending warm summers in the south of France and enjoying 6 months every winter exploring the mountains. After competing for France for seven years in water skiing and competing at a European level in alpine skiing, she then trained as a ski instructor to share her skills with others. After moving away to complete her law and journalism diploma in Paris, she couldn’t resist moving back to Méribel in the French Alps, where she went on to meet her husband and start a family. Wanting to experience a different lifestyle, Aurélia moved to French Polynesia and Hawaii with her family. Whilst there, she graduated as a therapeutic yoga instructor, enjoying the holistic approach to healing the body and mind. Later in life, she also qualified as an osteopath.
Through all this experience of high-level skiing, yoga and osteopathy, she noticed there was a lot in common with all of them and that they complimented each other well. She wanted to offer something different, going further than your average ski lesson, to improve people’s skiing and their physical and mental state of being… and so SNOWGA was born.
SNOWGA is a bespoke one – or three-day experience, usually based in your private chalet or apartment. With a focus on your mental and physical wellbeing, the private classes mix all three practices to approach exploring the mountains with a better awareness and understanding of your own body and how it moves.
When on a SNOWGA retreat, you will benefit from a private osteopathy appointment on arrival and departure to develop a better understanding of your bones, joints, and muscles and to take your temperature and body extension measurements.
You will then indulge in some therapeutic yoga in the comfort of your luxury chalet or apartment to warm up ahead of the day and enjoy some guided meditation so you’re in the right mindset for a day of mindful skiing. If mild enough outside, usually between March and April, your yoga class can be held out on the snow on your private decking or balcony, overlooking the snow-capped mountains. Starting each day this way will warm up your muscles and fill you with a different awareness of your body before hitting the slopes.
When on the slopes the ski tuition is a little different from a traditional ski class. SNOWGA’s ski lessons focus on your breathing, the mechanics of your movements and the feeling of balancing from within while skiing.
SNOWGA isn’t just for beginner skiers; there are many benefits for experienced skiers to go back to basics. These classes can help even expert skiers to better understand how their body works in terms of presence, mindset, and awareness of body movement. Providing you are ready to explore different feelings and sensations within your body, SNOWGA can help improve your skiing.
If you don’t ski, don’t worry. SNOWGA is also compatible with snowshoeing or Nordic skiing, where you will get all of the benefits of the osteopathy and yoga classes and the opportunity to explore the nearby lake and Alpine forests at your own pace.
All sessions are led by an expert in their field, meaning you get the best tuition across all aspects of the course. These classes are perfect for groups staying together to enjoy a collective experience; however, it is important to note that when on the slopes all participants need to have the same level of skiing, or everyone must be happy to adapt to the speed and level of the least confident skier.
When asked what the link is between yoga and skiing, Aurélia simply replied: “The link is the balance within your body and the way you breathe. This is where you can learn.”
She went on to say, “there has been an increase in general wellness understanding in the daily lives of people, especially with what everyone has been through over the last two years. People have changed their lives and now have a different outlook on wellbeing… their minds are opening in terms of how to heal.” The Elite Ski Team has had an increase in enquiries for their SNOWGA breaks this winter and has noticed more people practising yoga and exploring more holistic medicine and treatment recently too. “Last year, due to Covid, no one could ski”, explains Aurélia; “they had to enjoy the mountains differently, with walking, ski touring and immersing themselves in nature. It has really changed the mentality of many”.
Chalet Le Grenier in Méribel has the perfect outdoor area for morning SNOWGA warmups
“People come to the mountains to ski and eat good French food, why not also visit to rejuvenate yourself and light a fire inside yourself?” she asks. If you want to push your skiing or explore the mountains in a different more holistic way, this is a great way to do so.
SNOWGA courses are available in Méribel and Courchevel and cost between €680 (1 person/day) and €1100 (1-4 people/day). They can be booked directly with the Elite Ski Team or via your private concierge if staying in a Consensio Ultimate Catered Chalet, Relaxed Catered Chalet or Self-Catered Alpine Apartment.