Opening Statement

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mud Yoga - yoga on the trail, even in the mud

Warrior II pose on the trail in Utah (that's not me in the photo)

Even if you have a regular yoga practice, it can be hard to keep it up when you are on the trail, especially if you typically include floor poses in your practice.

Below is my 18-minute practice composed entirely of standing poses.  These are focused mostly on spinal flexibility.  It would also be good to add the dancer poses if your boots aren't too muddy.

Hold each pose for 15 to 20 seconds:

Mud Yoga
Standing side stretch: left
Standing side stretch: right
Standing supported backbend
Rag doll
Awkward pose
Standing extended big toe:  left
Warrior III: left
Standing extended big toe:  right
Warrior III: right
Chair prayer twist: left
Chair prayer twist: right
Standing backbend
Standing forward bend
Standing forward bend twist: left
Standing forward bend twist: right
Warrior I: left
Warrior II: left
Reverse warrior: left
Triangle left
Warrior I: right
Warrior II: right
Reverse warrior: right
Triangle right
Eagle: left
Eagle: right
Standing forward bend with yoga lock
Eagle: left
Eagle: right
One legged squat: left
One legged squat: right
Wide squat
Wide squat twist: left
Wide squat twist: right
High lunge: left
Runners lunge: left
Extended side angle - beginner: left
Pyramid: left
Revolved triangle: left
High lunge: right
Runners lunge: right
Extended side angle - beginner: right
Pyramid: right
Revolved triangle: right
Wide-leg standing forward bend head to knee: left
Wide leg standing forward bend head to knee: right
Standing backbend
Standing forward bend with yoga lock
Standing backbend
Standing side stretch: left
Standing side stretch: right
Wide squat
Rag doll

If you have the Yoga Studio app on your smartphone, you should be able to download the practice file from the link below, and then email it to yourself, and then open it from the email on your smartphone.  If you know how to do this more easily, please let me know.

Mud Yoga Practice 18 min - open from Yoga Studio App

If you have other favorite standing poses, please let me know.

Here are some additional stretches for hip and shoulder flexibility that Dr. Darryl Jackson recommended for me to use on the trail.

photo credit:  Warrior II - a4gpa via flickr (cc)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Why hike the Pacific Crest Trail?

Training Hike - Wildcat Canyon Regional Park - Mezue Trail looking NE
On my training hikes, and as I prepare logistics for the trail, my mind comes back again and again to the question, "why are you doing this hike?"

Why? That simple, single syllable carries with it an entire world view.  It demands a reason that makes sense. A reason that is productive. A reason that is efficient.

Making sense and being productive and efficient are useful concepts for understanding part of life. They help us be practical and effective. But not all of life can fall under the spell of goals and achievement.

While we think we dance to the tune of rationality, research on decision making tells us that we spin right or left based on our emotions—deeper impulses that can't be expressed easily in words.

I love the outdoors, and who doesn't love an adventure?  But, for me the deeper, resonant reason to hike is captured in this stanza from Gerard Manley Hopkins:

As Kingfishers Catch Fire (excerpt)

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Less poetically, the reason for hiking the PCT is to be myself most fully, to express my own inner life and nature through this outer action. And, perhaps equally to enrich my understanding and experience of life, or as a friend advised "channel your inner Reese Witherspoon," referring to her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in "Wild."

Why?  To be myself.

After that, there are many simpler reasons:
  • The exhilaration of being in wilderness, especially at high elevations
  • The excitement of an adventure
  • The fitness resulting from 8+ hours a day of hiking
  • The knowledge gained of the trail, towns, and backpacking
  • The enjoyment of audio books on my "to read" list
Finally, I needed a good reason to retire.  After 33 years at one company I had a good professional position, had many good relationships, and could easily have continued there for several more years.  I needed a compelling reason to make a change, something more engaging than the daily challenges in a large company, and hiking the PCT gave me just the right motivation.