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Jan 2014

Greetings Yoga Friends -

Does yoga practice make us stronger over the years?

This week I was able to measure that progress on one of my favorite winter trails, just as kids we might have measured our height using pencil marks along the garage doorway. 

(Photo by Suzi Rubino)

Leaving Bennet Pass snow park - heavy with car exhaust, dogs running excitedly between open doors, hardened boot tracks - we were soon cross-country skiing through tall trees, dark old-growth bark in contrast to bright snow. At two miles, looming cliffs define the narrowing Terrible Traverse - fortunately fairly open and easy this time - and a gateway into the remote beyond. A back-country where waves of hard-pack, like mini snow-dune obstacles dusted with blown-down evergreen sprigs, lined the wind-chopped tunnel of trees below the ridge-line. Then Badger Creek junction - where I had turned back on previous trips, legs a little quivery, back of the arms sore from poling, and perhaps mostly my mind already intimidated by the thought of the long descent.

But this time we continued. A new country of deeper snow, more open woods...

...and finally expansive views of distant mountains from the summit of Bonney Butte.

Yet if I am stronger from yoga practice - from deep quad lunges, playing with arm balances, moving through vinyasa - on the descent I realized that the greater strengthening has been energetic focus. And not the previous kind of mental tightness of 'trying' so hard to succeed. Falling in the icy ruts (ok, my ski-turn technique has not improved that much!) I found my body stayed relaxed, and that I was not draining my self with anxiety or inner chatter.

Instead I felt an ease in all the layers of my body, a balance and suppleness that seemed as much about enjoying the mountain air in my lungs and the wilderness space in my thoughts.

Making tangible this broader foundation of yoga is the intent of my new workbook - Vibrant Body, The Subtle Anatomy of Yoga. Yoga as a truly full practice for strength, yes, on all the layers of our physical and mental being, enabling us to ski through life with ease and joy. And my January 25th workshop is where I will be sharing the workbook for the first time.

I hope your New Year is filled with the kind of challenges that enable you to grow brighter than ever in the coming months -

Namaste - Eugene