‘In Niseko, We Have It All’- A Chat With Charlie Davies of Powder Yoga

Niseko is well known as a snow paradise, but its quickly becoming a hot spot for those ‘in the know’ as a fantastic yoga destination year-round. The H2 Life team caught up with yoga extraordinaire Charlie Davies, owner of Powder Yoga, to hear about the inspirations for her practice, her love of the area and to learn some top tips on how to prepare your body for Niseko’s epic winter powder days.

H2 Life: Thank you Charlie for taking the time to talk with us here at H2 Life. We would love to know what initially brought you to Niseko and more importantly, why have you chosen to make Niseko your home?

Charlie: I came to Niseko for the world famous powder that I had been hearing about from friends in Europe who were lucky enough to visit Japan. Niseko is not like anywhere I have lived before, many people who work seasonally chase the surf and beach life after the winter, but in Niseko we have it all. Incredible winter conditions a stone's throw from my front door, and in summer the beaches, surf and lakes are just a short drive away. There are not many places in the world that can offer this year round access to both winter and summer activities.

I chose to make Niseko my home for many reasons, but above all for the community who live here. Finding people from all over the world who share common goals and passions makes life in Niseko a wonderful experience.

H2 Life: You touched on how incredible Niseko is as a year round destination. In your view, what makes Niseko so attractive during the green season?

Charlie: I met many people here who said they preferred Niseko in the summer but it was only after my first summer here that I could really understand why. I remember my first summer here all I could say was, "It's just so green!” One of my favourite things about summer in Niseko is being able to hike in the morning, looking down over the lakes and incredible coastlines and then to be in the water in the afternoon, enjoying a SUP session or surfing at the beach. We are very lucky to have all these opportunities on our doorstep. Also, getting to explore the mountains in summertime brings a whole new perspective to my winter touring activities, opening up new places for snowy adventures.

H2 Life: How does the nature and surroundings of Niseko influence your style of yoga teaching?

Charlie: Teaching in Niseko has taught me a lot. I have really learned to connect to myself as a teacher since being here, bringing the yoga that feels right to me, to my students. This has for sure been heavily influenced by Niseko’s amazing nature. Being here has taught me to slow down, to go with the flow more and to find a way to connect my students to the natural surroundings. Here, it is very normal to spend a large portion of your day out in nature, and work comes after that. This way of life changes your perspective and through yoga I try to bring this balance into my students' lives too.

H2 Life: How do you find teaching yoga in such a multi-cultural hub such as here in Niseko? Do you find that Japanese clientele have a different lens on yoga than your international clientele?

Charlie: There are many different styles and routes to get into yoga, for some it's about the physical elements, for others it’s the meditation and breathwork and for others again it's more about the spiritual side. So I would say that the difference I notice is more related to the type of person rather than their nationality as such, everyone has different goals and this can be seen in classes here with such an international mix of people coming from different cultures and backgrounds. I have really enjoyed seeing the deep respect and politeness that Japanese teachers bring to their classes which can be a very beautiful thing to experience.

H2 Life: We see you offer a weekly outdoor yoga session - what are the benefits in your mind to practicing yoga outside in the fresh air of the Hokkaido countryside?

Charlie: Practicing yoga in general has so many benefits. Helping to keep our bodies strong and supple, helping to balance our minds and helping to influence the way we interact with the world around us. Practicing yoga outside brings a whole new dimension to classes as it allows us as teachers to connect our students to the natural environment. Many countries around the world are now prescribing “green prescriptions,” time in nature, to patients to help with a range of physical and mental issues. Combining the healing effects of yoga and time in the natural environment together makes for a very powerful experience.

H2 Life: What parallels can be drawn between skiing/snowboarding and yoga?

Charlie: These disciplines compliment each other very well. It takes tremendous strength, balance, and focus to charge down a mountain while strapped to your skis or snowboard. This means skiers and boarders who spend time on the yoga mat are better prepared for a graceful, injury-free season of riding. Yoga also helps with our mental focus, we learn breathwork techniques that can be applied to help improve performance. Practicing meditation brings the ability to tap into a deep level of focus when needed, something that can be very important when navigating backcountry adventures or even in the park.

H2 Life: Do you have any exercises you would recommend for winter guests to do to prepare for their upcoming ski/snowtrip?

Charlie: To prepare for a winter season on the mountain it is important to build both strength and flexibility to ensure peak performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Some key poses for building strength and flexibility can be found on the video below:

Big thanks to Charlie at Powder Yoga for sharing her love of Niseko and tips for enjoying yoga year-round. Powder Yoga are a proud partner of All Niseko Pass - book your stay with H2 Life and use your All Niseko Pass vouchers for both private lessons and drop in group classes.