Sunday, May 10, 2009

Strengthen Shoulders? Hike 10 miles with a 20 pound back pack

I went on a camping trip as a chaperon with my kids' class earlier this week to a heavenly place called Opal Creek. A 2 hour drive into the foot hills of the Cascade Mountains south of here, this is an old growth forest reserve. From the entrance of the park its a 3 mile hike. Imagine that in the middle of pouring rain and carrying about 25 pounds of camera equipment, including the heaviest tripod you can ever carry. Add 3 layers of clothing and protective rain clothing, you're talking some serious weight being carried up the mountain.

It was an exhilarating experience, both in physically and mentally. Along with the sponge brained 6-9 year old kids, I too learnt about the flora and fauna of the area, including a valuable lesson on how important it is to preserve the forests and the associated wildlife. I had no idea how inter dependant the ecosystem is. I learnt about OWLS including the spotted ones....

It was three days of hiking, walking, listening, picture taking - I was exhausted by the time I returned. I was looking forward to a restorative yoga session with Nuvana. Nothing like that. She wanted me to work on my Adho-mukha vriksana instead, once I told her my shoulders were sore from carrying all that weight. "You never know how this may help you finally overcome your recent loss of ability to get into hand stand" !. After a few rounds of AdhoMukha Svanasana, with head firmly on support, which allowed me to experience the stretching back of the shoulders, I made the first attempt to kick up. With just a little tug to my thighs, there I was back on my shoulders, with enough strength to stretch up and get my elbows straight.

This accomplishment after nearly 9 months generated enough excitement that all kids too were up on their hands! So there were 4 more successful attempts interspersed with shoulder work, including half head stands and using weights. I finally had broken the barrier and I was right, it was not the hips, it was my shoulders that were the Achilles heel.
Connection to nature and your surroundings is extremely important to recycle your energy, your mind and your body of the junk we put into our selves every day. 3 days at Opal Creek made me realize I didn't need to travel two hours from home to do that. I live in such a paradise, right here in a place called Forest Heights. I just need to put on my rain gear and restart my daily hiking and walking, with a caveat - I need at least 20-25 pounds on my back and keep my shoulders rolled back. Its all interconnected to my ability to get back on hands and my favorite pose AdhoMukha Vriksasana.
The Yogi

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Keeping it real - yoga or not!

Recently I connected with school friends of mine, graduating high school class from St. Joseph's Convent in Faridabad India, a suburb of New Delhi. The year was 1981. I cannot forget that time and even though faces were forgotten, some names were forgotten, we kids all had a bond, and its amazing how those connections come right back after a deep sleep. The internet has connected us again, and the folks who connected were folks who you were connected with then, your circle of friends and some enemies, but at the end of the day they were all friends. Of all them most changed was me... no one could recognize my picture.

My connection to yoga started in that school. We would have a yoga class once a week in PT. Simple poses, like padmasana, not simple anymore for me... but the seed was sown. In grade 8, I wrote a play based on a yoga show that would come on TV every week. A Swami Dhiren Brahmachari would run it - he would rattle off the asanas, their benefit and two demonstrators would show them. My script was based on that show, and one of these circle of friends, Arun became Swami and two others become the demonstrators. The play was a hit and it one an award. And then yoga became history as other sports became more important.

As I connected with these friends the last few days and went down the memory lane, I realized those seeds of yoga never left me, just as these friends never left me. We started right back virtually and through pictures. Nothing has changed, but everything has changed. Those memories remain. It was a time of my life I cannot forget, and its a time I share with my children in form of stories, so they can then share it and the stories become family legends. That is so reminiscent of how yoga has evolved too. Passed down from generation to generation.

To the memories of times gone by....


The Yogi