Sunday, August 25, 2013

Taking Yoga to New Heights

Yep, that's me at the very top in the orange about 55 feet up.  Crazy huh?  What's even more crazy is how very yoga like it was.
One of my students, Paul, is an climber extraordinaire.  He has climbed rocks, mountain, ice and is preparing for a climbing trip next year to Peru.
Every time he talks about climbing he says how much like yoga it is.  How you are in the present moment, how much the breath comes into play. How very meditative it is.  Well after many months of gentle prodding on his part, my husband and I found ourselves at Planet Rock in Pontiac this past Friday night.
It is a huge old building that I am not sure what its' previous life was, but it seems to be enjoying it's present reincarnation.  The staff was very welcoming when we came in (very important to me, first impressions and all). We were paired up with Russ who took us through an intro for newbie's.  It took about 40 minutes or so where we learned all about knots, safety, harnesses, safety,  braking with the ropes, safety, belaying (the non climber on the bottom with the rope), safety, checking our harnesses, checking our partners harnesses and did I say safety.  Truth be told, my head was spinning just a little. And then it literally let us loose from the beginners wall and said have fun. Holy crap! Just like that.
Well he did follow us to the big walls to make sure that we could handle the rope if our climber were to start to fall and made sure we knew how to "break" for them when we were belaying.  Because my hubby is a tad heavier than me (giggles), my harness was tethered to the floor to make sure I didn't become Peter Pan if hubby started to fall. There was always staff walking around to make sure everyone was OK and Paul came over occasionally from his climbing partners to help out and give pointers. 
And this is where the yoga kicked in.  After tying the appropriate knots and checking each other's harnesses up I went.  And up and up.  The higher I went the more I seemed to become unaware of the others around me.  My concentration went deeper in as I determined where my feet and hands went next.  I would pause occasionally to make sure that I was breathing deep and full.  Others apparently were climbing within inches of me and I really didn't notice. In a sense I was meditating as I climbed! I reached the top, looked down and realized how high I was and it felt great.  Propelling down was just as much fun....weeee!!!! I went up a few more times taking a different route and still loved it.
The other aspect of where the yoga kicked in was with my physical body.  Using the strength of my upper body to pull me up (thanks to all those down dogs and chatarunga's),  the strength of my legs to climb (compliments of warrior poses, crescent, balancing poses when I had one foot planted as I figured out where to put the next one) and the awareness of my core muscles (bandhas) to bring it all together and of course let's not forget the breath. 
This practice of yoga is used every where we go and whatever we do in our daily lives.  What ever "mountain's" you have to climb in your life bring your yoga with you and don't forget to breath.
P.S. Thanks Paul!

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