Hooked on Yoga Again
I'm hooked on Yoga again. It's been about 2 years since I had a regular practice but in the past month I've gone to several classes per week and I am hooked on the feeling again.
This past weekend, I also had a breakthrough. My body got warmed up enough on Sunday that I braved the Wheel pose. This is a rather extreme back bend and chest opener. I did two of them, followed by a shoulder stand inversion and a half pigeon. These are not beginner poses and require good form and clarity of mind to perform safely. I'm amazed at how rapidly my body has recovered it's strength and flexibility to do them again.
This time around on my yoga wheel, I've finally learned how to breath in tune to my movement. It's taken 30 years of intermittent practice for me to grasp this simple skill, but it is quite transformative.
When you hold a position and breath into it, your body slowly opens up. It's like watching a flower open in the sun. Synchronizing the action of your breathing in different yoga positions gently stretches your muscles and ligaments so you can go deeper into the pose. It's quite surprising to see how much farther you can go if you can coordinate the breath.
In addition, there is a heightened mental relaxation because you are completely focused on the sensations of drawing a breadth in, feeling it expand in your chest and back and exhaling. Focusing on the feeling and sound of your breadth blocks out other thoughts and forces you to be in the moment. It blocks out racing thoughts about work, family, and all the things you have to do, so you can just be there with yourself.
I'm doing yoga now for the relaxation it provides me. Work is stressful and that stress goes right to my mid and upper back. But after yoga class or practice, I feel an incredible opening. Not always, but often.
In addition, there are other more physical benefits, especially in my leg muscles.The past few years of hiking have really tightened up my hips, quads, and ankles. They're already much looser and I'm glad that my life path stumbled back across Yoga again. Stretching out my ITBs is great prep for my upcoming hike across Scotland in less than 2 weeks. Yikes!
Restorative Yoga Poses for Hikers and Backpackers
Hiking and Backpacking can really do a number on your body if you don't take a few minutes at the end of the day to stretch out. Here are some simple poses that can help your muscles un-knot and recover, particularly in the back, shoulders, and hips. You can do these after you arrive in camp, before dinner, and don't require a yoga mat to perform.
If you're not already a Yogi, please get proper instruction before trying these poses. You need to ease into them over time or you can hurt yourself.