Using the Buddy System: Yoga & Thru-Hiking
Early this year, Madison Dragana published a killer article on the importance of stretching while hiking and backpacking in which she suggested brilliant ways to incorporate yoga into your hike. I’m here with Round 2 to drive home the genius of yoga-training & on-trail yoga, and to offer some inspiration to get you into those yoga classes this winter to build legs of steel and get your mind balanced for your upcoming thru-hike.
If you’re thinking, 1) “Alright, lady, yoga is not my thing. I like to move, sweat, and be challenged,” or 2) “Heck yes, woman! I can’t wait to read this article,” then this article is for you. (If you identified with point #2 – 50 brownie points for you).
Yoga, as defined by Wikipedia, tells us that yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline that aims to transform body and mind. Furthermore, “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “yoke,” which means joining together to pull a load in equal proportions. In yoga, we are joining body, mind, and spirit to balance// carry life in equal proportions. HELLO – yoga is SYNONYMOUS with thru-hike. Okay, this is false, but seemingly valid.
The beauty of yoga is you kick your own butt and work through the mental and physical struggle. (Yes, yoga is immensely physically demanding. Proof: I was a collegiate lacrosse player, yet my yoga practice still challenges me to the point of drowning in a puddle of sweat// tears on my mat). Within a yoga practice, there is a teacher – not an instructor nor trainer – but a teacher who guides you. And furthermore, the best teachers are somehow so good at what they do that you feel this immediate poise and keen DESIRE to go through the fire, because they sure as hell aren’t forcing you to keep going with all those offers to take child’s pose. And before you know it, you’re finding your edge, learning more, being humbled, wanting it to stop, wanting more, finding peace of mind, and discovering the unity of the beings around you as you breathe that victorious life energy (aka air) in and out together in the same beautiful struggle.
|Stepping Onto Your Mat||Stepping Onto The Trail|
|Unification of Mind, Body, Spirit||Unification of Mind, Body, Spirit|
|The Practice Guides and Teaches With Grace & Humility||The Outdoors Guide and Teach with Grace & Humility|
|Alternative to Stop At Any Moment||Alternative to Stop At Any Moment|
|Challenging Physical// Mental// Social Comfort Zones, Limits, Norms||Challenging Physical// Mental// Social Comfort Zones, Limits, Norms|
|Strengthening the Body||Strengthening the Body|
|Discovering Grace||Discovering Grace|
|Connecting with Something Beyond Yourself||Connecting with Something Beyond Yourself|
|Anywhere, Anytime||Anywhere, Anytime|
|Spiritually: Uplift for Uphills// Ground for Downhills||Physically & Spiritually: Uplift for Uphills// Ground for Downhills|
|Complemented With Meditation||Complemented With Meditation|
|Movement to Breath Connection||Movement to Breath Connection|
|Alleviates Sore/ Tight/ At-Risk Muscles||DO THE YOGA to Alleviate Sore/ Tight/ At-Risk Muscles|
The beauty of thru-hiking is you kick your own butt and work through the mental and physical struggle. Within a thru-hike , it’s the outdoors that guide you. And furthermore, the outdoors are somehow so good at what they do that you feel this immediate poise and keen DESIRE to go through the fire, because they sure as hell aren’t forcing you to keep going with all those offers to take a trail nap. And before you know it, you’re finding your edge, learning more, being humbled, wanting it to stop, wanting more, finding peace of mind, and discovering the unity of the beings around you as you breathe that victorious life energy (aka air) in and out together in the same beautiful struggle. Remind you of anything?
This off-season, I encourage you to begin a yoga practice (studio 0r at-home) or strengthen your existing practice (check out mindbodyconnect on your smartphone for studios in your area). Not only does yoga assist in the mental training for a thru-hike, but it gives you superman-like strength and mountain goat-like balance; AND, as if you needed more reasons, yoga is one of the absolute greatest tools – alongside not poking snakes, wearing warm clothing, and eating food – for on-trail health and maintenance to ensure the utmost probability for an injury-free hike.
“We do the very thing that makes us wobble, shake, or fall &, yet, it’s the greater practice that brings balance” – Yogi Allstar, Alisha Vasquez.
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