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Hikyoga – the Best of Both Worlds

The other day, I persuaded Jeff to join me in a new (to him) adventure – a hike in a local park, combined with yoga. The event, sponsored by Athleta, was one of many organized by Hikyoga, a local company that holds pop-up yoga events all over the Cleveland area.

The goal of Hikyoga is to ‘promote individuals to be more present in the outdoors.’ We can relate. It amazes us how often we see couples, families, individuals walking along a trail, more focused on the phones in their hands than the beauty around them.

It is hard to simply be. Especially now. There are so many issues that surround us, so much anger, that it is difficult to let it all go for even a little while.

We have had so many discussions with friends this summer about how to live a more simple life, how to be present and content in the moment.

So we decided to embrace something new. Let’s face it, Jeff is not a yoga kind of guy. But he loves his wife, and he has an adventurous spirit, so off we went.

We joined 17 others on a hike through Rocky River Reservation in northeast Ohio. This is one of our favorite parks, with a number of great trails to choose from, and a gorgeous scenic overlook.

We spread out along the trail, keeping a respectable distance from each other, even as we chatted quietly.

At our first stop, our guide, Alison, set ‘faith over fear’ as our intention for the hike. In yoga, an intention is a quality or virtue that you would like to cultivate both during your yoga practice and once you step off the mat. The idea of letting go of our fear and having faith could not have been more appropriate for the time we are in.

The word ‘faith’ has a scary connotation for some. As a ‘belief in something unseen’, faith requires that you give up a certain degree of control. Whether in God or in the universe at large, faith is about having complete trust in someone or something other than yourself.

I don’t know about you, but control freak that I am, I have a hard time with that. Jeff reminds me that I cannot control everything. I need to remind myself constantly to set aside my fears and hold fast to my faith.

“Today I will simply accept. I will relinquish the need to be in resistance to myself and my environment in any way. I will move forward in joy by accepting where I am right now.”

Melody Beattie

One of our first yoga poses was the mountain pose. Feet planted firmly on the ground, hands to the side, fingers stretching toward the earth even as you lift your head to the sky. Mountain pose is the essence of stability. Of being rooted in something deep and everlasting.

When I looked down as we ended the sequence, I was struck by the irony of trying to plant my feet firmly on rocky ground. How often I have felt that way in these last months. Do you feel that way, too? As if the ground beneath your feet is constantly shifting?

Our marriage is on solid ground. The kids are growing into adults with feet planted firmly on the ground. But life? Eh, not so much.

That gave Jeff and I even more to think about – could we really let faith level out our paths? It sounds so pretty to say, but so much harder to actually do.

We continued along the path together, pausing again for balance poses deeper in the park. Is anyone else seeing the symbolism here? Ack!

Moments such as these always make me feel as if I’ve been smacked upside the head. I can almost hear the shouted, ‘Pay attention!’ Then my brain turns on and I start thinking about those who are walking with me in life, and how difficult it can be to achieve balance. Am I alone in feeling off kilter? I don’t think I am.

photo courtesy of Hikyoga

This pose is Warrior I. Balance and strength are key here. You can see Jeff and me way in the back!

I love the Warrior poses. Jeff? He was a trooper, even if his knees don’t flex quite that deeply anymore!

Balance is key to life, I think. Balancing wants and needs, balancing emotions, balancing home and work. Yoga doesn’t leave room in your brain for anything but that one moment. I know this to be true because, every time my thoughts strayed to something else, I lost my balance.

Yoga requires physical strength, too. But it also requires mental strength. Basic poses – the building blocks of yoga practice – train our minds to focus. Yoga flows, moving from one pose to another, don’t leave room for outside thinking. You must be present to pull it off.

Anyway. During the moments of quiet meditation during our yoga practice, Alison read from Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie. You can see from the battered cover that Alison has spent a lot of time with these daily meditations.

“Be patient. Relax and trust. Let go. Then, let go some more.”

Melody Beattie

Journey to the Heart is a great book, filled with thought-provoking ideas and daily reminders on moving forward in life. And it’s appropriate for anyone and everyone.

Alison used readings from the book and her own meditative practice to encourage us to be present. We focused on the water rushing nearby, the wind rustling through the trees. We set aside distractions and worries and fears and just focused on enjoying time spent outdoors.

In her quiet voice, Alison challenged us to think about the places where fear has crept into our lives, and to let it go. So easy to say, so very hard to do.

Our hike ended with some wise words from Mother Teresa:

At the end of the day, we cannot let our fears define us. Fear is a liar that tells us we cannot. Faith is about giving ourselves over. It’s about trust. It’s about freeing ourselves to pursue the goodness and peace and joy that can be found in life.

We’re not suggesting that everyone needs to run right out and take up yoga. Imagine, though, what you might accomplish if you made a conscious effort to push aside your fears.

Maybe. Just maybe, you could move that much closer to living a healthier, more balanced life.

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