I just returned from almost a week of hiking and backpacking with my family.
It’s what we do every summer and time that’s pretty precious to me.
You could say it’s my yoga practice for these months in many ways; that time outdoors, taking in the beauty that surrounds me.
Looking for God? Well, look no further.
On the trail, I find solitary time while still very much depending on the support of those around me.
Though I love when the path levels off and there is ease—most of the time the climb kicks my ass and I wonder if it’s worth the struggle. Insecurity rears its ugly head as I remind myself I’m getting old and a battle of the mind ensues. Many times, I want to give up. I haven’t yet, though have learned to appreciate rest. And fear will taunt me by way of heights and bears.
In more ways than one, the path I traveled this past week is not so unlike the usual path of my yoga.
Frankly, I don’t know what’s worse: Kapotasana or the grizzly cubs we came across on the trail. (Um, yes I do: Kapotasana of course!)
I guess what I’m really trying to say is, though I’m in love with my Ashtanga practice, I also recognize it’s not the only way. Ashtanga is not right for everyone—there, I said it. So go ahead and bring on the hate/love mail. But wait, because I’ll go a step even further…yoga itself may not be the right fit for everyone.
My daughter’s beau is a rock climber. He’s interested in yoga, but only to enhance his ability to climb (and perhaps further his relationship with my daughter, as well). Anyhow, I had to ask…why rock climbing? This was his answer:
Rock Climbing is a very personal sport. You attain success through an intimate connection to the rock and not by being egged on by the results of other people’s accomplishments. Climbing helps you focus on minute details and is not only calming, but is reflective of how I try to lead my life.
My son is the hiker and more the reason I spend so much time carrying packs, pitching tents, and complaining of shin splints. He tells me it helps to clear his mind and think. Then adds, “Oh yeah, and it’s fun!” (Yep, I know exactly what he means.)
And no doubt, if the river were a mat, casting was a pose, and all that mattered was being a kind, generous and loving person—then my husband practices #yogaeverydamnday. His just looks a little different.
On the flip side, there are plenty of people striking poses that have nothing to do with the practice of becoming a better person. Just sample a bit of Instagram’s #yogaeverydamnday and see.
Truth is, you can practice anything with intention—or without it too. And why I hope you won’t confuse my own pictures posted for my yoga practice—it’s not.
At the same time, please don’t fool yourself into thinking one way is the only way. It’s not either.
But do try and find a way—and make it yours. Whatever “it” is that brings you closer to who you are and who you want to be, let that be your path. Dedicate yourself to a practice that is reflective of how you try to lead your life—be it in on water, rocks, a board or a mat.
That’s the essence of yoga and all that really matters.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise