Yoga Surprises!

Sorry it has been a while since posting, but with the holidays, starting a fun part time job at Lucky Dog Day Camp, and having visitors, I have not had a lot of writing time.

However, I had a surprising time on Big Mountain last weekend while Josh and our nieces were going downhill, I went up. This is only my second year on skins and last year I spent most times out at Blacktail, where it is a little less steep, a little shorter routes, and once you are down the hill you HAVE to come back up. For me, Big Mountain seemed daunting, too long and steep for this newbie, and also I could bail at any time without any incentive to continue. Soooo, in other words, I did not have great expectations as I suited up and started up.

However, a couple hours later, I found myself at the Summit House…literally amazed that I had made it and proud of myself for this accomplishment. But, as always I cannot credit just myself for this. So much of what surprises me about life usually rolls back toward yoga.

Yes, I have been active my whole life, swam like a fish in my early years, had a stint of weight lifting in college, ran for “fun” after college until I injured myself too many times, and by then yoga had come on the scene and started taking over most of my physical and mental free time.

As I started to teach yoga, I would have students let me know that yoga was awesome, but they still needed to go do their “cardio”, and I didn’t think much of that until I moved to Rockford in 2006 and had just another yoga surprise, but with a different twist.

I had extra time on my hands, so thought I would join the YMCA to swim, one of my first loves. Now, I had done this before and also before yoga, so I knew that my first time back in a lap pool would be short and sweet and I would need to build my endurance. So I suited up and jumped in and about 40  minutes later stuck my head out of the pool to check the time. I had swam farther and longer than I ever had pre-yoga and I didn’t even feel ready to stop. Even when I had still been running and decided to get in a lap pool, I did not have the endurance I had with doing just yoga.

I have told this story many times to many classes in front of me as an anecdote to how yoga is also a “cardio workout”. I do not have the science behind it, I could give you my guesses about how back bends and Pranayama practice bring more space for the heart and the lungs to work more efficiently, but I can absolutely give you my truth.

And, I just added one more anecdote to this truth.  I guess yoga can still surprise me as I took one small ski step after another and made my way just fine to the top of Big Mountain…not once, but two days in a row…with no more than my yoga practice to boost me.

But, I guess that isn’t the whole truth! I would also say that yoga has brought me not just this physical wholeness, but a sense of spiritual connection to the WHOLE. Seeing signs for Benny Up reminded me of my student and her husband losing their son, how Ben held such power for so many in this community, and how that energy still feeds so many on their journeys up and down and around so many mountains. It again was not just me or yoga that got me up that trail, but my connection to the power of the community of people ahead of and behind me.

The surprises of yoga I know will never cease for me. And, I hope for everyone that through practice and exploration, you too will find yoga surprises along the way!

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