Hot. This morning, I woke up and wasn’t feeling the need for a heated practice. Although I had planned to go to Bikram Yoga, my warm blooded body was telling me that it needed the cool fresh air. It was cloudy with a slight chill in the air yet I knew that heat on top of heat would only give me a hot head which would ultimately lead to fatigue and frustration. My eyes were due for a break too – no concentrated gaze on the mirror, just a rest. I’ll admit, I was a little bummed that Bikram wasn’t on the to-do list but I was experienced in the consequences of simply giving in. Instead, I put on the brightest top I could find, dragged my husband to Pacific Palisades, and tackled one of their steepest hiking trails. I still wanted a challenge.
On the Temescal Ridge Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains
A little while ago, I wrote about my attempt to transition from a new found love of hiking to tackling my fear of running. I loved the run’s natural high and the amount of ground I could cover on the mountain trails at a faster pace. But it was after a few runs that my Achilles Heels, literally, started giving me grief. Today, weeks later, I still wake up with Achilles so tender and tight that I need a few moments to ease into those first few steps from bed. Added to that, my knees were begging for me to stop – they just hurt and simply served as a reminder as to why I had never taken up running years before. I gave up trying to run. I had given it a shot – it just wasn’t me. But I persevered with the hike.
Ever since I can remember, I have always loved to go for walks, whether along the bush walk near my parents’ home in Sydney, while exploring a foreign city, or simply meandering around the block of my current home and taking random photographs. I can walk for hours and be happy taking in my surroundings; I stroll with no direction and love the sense of wonder that it gives me. It took me a move to Los Angeles coupled with a running-fail to realize that hiking is a natural fit.
Temescal Ridge hiking trail – it’s steeper than it looks
YOGA & HIKING
When I know that spending 90 minutes in a hot room isn’t a spirited move, I usually take a hike. My husband used to just tag along; months into it however, he’s feeling challenged and noticing improvements. We’ve gotten faster, become more focused, seen previously unexplored parts of greater LA, and are more appreciative of nature’s seasonal change around us. It’s on my hiking days that I do a home yoga practice. I usually indulge in a Yin Yoga session (Paul Grilley led DVD) or restorative PM practice led by Colleen Saidman. If I need something that generates a bit of a sweat, albeit in the comfortable temperatures of my own four walls sans the mirror, I flow with Corepower Yoga or any DVD in Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga series. I’m finding that this balance is working for me as I use different muscles, utilize a number of breathing techniques, and rejuvenate when my body asks for it; I respond better to Bikram Yoga when I’ve taken a break. Plus, I like that I am listening to my body and not blindly following an addiction to any set practice.
Just a part of my DVD collection; old-school, I know.
A MEETING WITH MY MIND
This isn’t always the case but at times I find my meditation wavers in the Bikram class. I am either so focused on the posture’s technique, listening to the teacher’s words and/or corrections, or holding my gaze on my flushed face in the mirror and thinking “is it hotter in here today?” that my mind doesn’t take a rest. Hiking affords me the time to not only step away from the hot room and get a sweat on, but an extended period away from the laptop and keyboard. As a writer, I have so many ideas, thoughts, facts, and the latest Twitter headlines in my mind that I need to regroup. On hikes, I schedule a meeting with my mind – a time to reshuffle, sort, organize, file, while allowing random thoughts to enter and exit. It’s just like the sentiment @nilofer shared on a recent TED Talk: that stepping out of the box helps you to think outside the box.
In an article in May issue of Find Bliss magazine, Julie Carmen quoted her mom who says, peaceful vistas “allow our eyes to find something beautiful as a resting place.”
View of downtown LA from the top of the trail
Earlier today, on that steep uphill climb – note: it’s the hiking trail that my husband dislikes the most – we actually broke our time record by a few minutes. We were both flabbergasted, surprised and felt a degree of exaltation. Mind over matter; the Bikram practice works outside of the hot room too.
My husband, happy to be on the downhill climb
Spring flowers, close up
Spring flowers in white