If I am at the top of a mountain with my husband or a friend, the photos are mostly yoga selfies. When I am alone on a summit, there is a practice and each pose relates to how I feel about reaching a particular peak.
There are many photos of me practicing Eka pada Urdhva dhanurasana (one-footed upward bow pose). I practice this and other backbends on summits, when I am elated and feeling successful. They are a celebration, a way for me to embrace the feeling that anything is possible. I also discovered, while practicing this pose on Mount Eisenhower, that it obliterates my asthma symptoms giving me a burst of energy and the ability to breathe more easily.
I practice Hanumanasana (Monkey pose) and bowing Hanuman when my brain is filled with doubt and I need to find the confidence and determination to move on. The story of Hanuman (The Hindu Monkey God)
Warrior poses, in particular Warrior III, make me feel powerful. They provide the strength to continue when life’s problems follow me onto the mountains; things that can’t be fixed, that have no solution, but you have to endure. Warrior poses help you overcome fear. I practiced Warrior III at the start of the Precipice Trail and at the top; winning that day’s battle over my fear of heights.
Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle pose) and Vrksasana (Tree pose) help relieve (at least for me) hot flashes by creating space in the body. Hiking with a pack curls you forward, making you small, bringing on frequent flushes of hot flashes. These poses create a counterbalance of expansion reducing the flashes.
I discovered another benefit while practicing them on Mount Magalloway. Opening your body wide, taking as much space as possible, brings about a wonderful feeling of freedom and lightness.
Urdhva hastasana (Upward hands pose) is pure exuberance. Almost everyone has practiced this pose, most without even knowing it. Watch people during a fast moving soccer or football game when a team has scored; they jump up with their arms held high – you can feel their excitement. It’s an all-encompassing feeling of joy. A focus on the present moment. An understanding that in this moment, the world is a magnificent place and nothing else matters. I experienced this on Imp. It was a hike where so many of life’s little obstacles tried to get in the way of me hiking this mountain. I was just so excited to be there, on that beautiful little mountain peak.
Sometimes I don’t practice yoga poses, I just sit. I sit and take in all of the beauty, in silence. I let it wash over and through me.
Alone on a mountain, I let the heart tell me what to practice. It always leads me in the right direction.