The way we newsify things for the sake of entrancing eyeballs never ceases to amaze. Authors and journalists and editors do it with politics, medical studies and trends in every realm. Yesterday I was listening to The Friday News Roundup and journalist and news analyst Juan Williams, commenting on recent happenings in the American presidential contest, commented something along the lines of “People remember the truth and political spin won’t erase that.” (I
don’t remember whether he was imputing half truths to elephants or donkeys, he can be trusted to do both when appropriate.) Usually I read Williams as a realist, but I have to say that in this instance I found myself wondering how wide a net he was casting and if he’d read any Orwell (I’m certain, of course, he has. More the wonder he retains his faith.)
What has any of this to do with yoga or hiking or hiking yoga? And have you ever heard of hiking yoga before? Of course you have, if not in name then on your last hike you probably stopped at a spot of beauty and reached for the sky or your hiking buddy to stand in wonder together. The most organic form of hiking yoga.
When I read Taking Yoga on a Hike this morning I was struck by the mini-history given in the third paragraph:
“This yoga fusion option started in San Francisco three years ago and made its debut in New York City this spring, promising the chance to connect with nature in an urban environment, with stops for yoga along the way.”
Where does the need to pedigree and attribute natural, everyday activities come from except maybe word count? While outdoor and yoga on hikes may not be everyone’s cup of chai tea, folks have been taking yoga hikes as long as they’ve trekked the Himalayas or strapped a yoga mat on an old frame pack. These days I tend to throw my Yoga-Paws in my lighter pack, but it’s the same urge and the same amazing feeling.
The very things that can be complained about in outdoor yoga are the reasons that some of us feel best doing yoga outside: the variability. Sticks and stones remind you you’re in contact with the earth, bird chirping and dog barking blend together (they only seem different – one more annoying and one more relaxing – because of our reactions), and uneven ground , while challenging balance, adds a tremendous core and functional element. Try doing Downward Facing Dog without a mat and tell me you don’t feel your core in whole new and different way.
I love my early morning and before bed yoga sessions in a flat floored room, on my silk rug with Jonathan Goldman‘s creations streaming from the sound system and candles flickering kind shadows on the visage of Kuan Yin staring down from her museum poster. But I also love my yoga in the sand, among the cactus and lizards in the foothills of the Sandia mountains, or on the plateaus overlooking
Chaco Canyon… or a thousand other places. These sessions are a meditation, too, albeit with some extra bumps or slants under my feet and hands and perhaps the wave or querying head tilt of another passing hiker (I do tend to choose places where this is less likely to happen). What better intermediate training in watching and caring for your monkey mind in daily life? What more inspiring backdrop? And what better way to groove your own practice?
- Hiking Yoga in NYC (theweeklyjo.wordpress.com)
- Exercise Outdoors: Yoga in the Sun (sierraclub.typepad.com)
- An Unintentional Yoga Teacher. ~ Brian Williams (elephantjournal.com)
- Top 5 reasons to practice yoga in the mountains (buzz.snow.com)