Yoga makes a landscape look more beautiful
By Leonie Sherman
It all started at 11,700 feet
On a solo trip in the High Sierra four years ago I rerouted to Royce Lakes, miles off trail and on the way to nowhere. A couple was lounging on the sandy beach when I arrived, and ten minutes into our conversation a group of three guys tromped by. Anticipating a lengthy chat, I spread out my foam pad and started stretching. One of the guys asked if I’d ever done acroyoga before. Within half an hour I was stripped down to my skivvies performing improbable stunts with a stranger while another stranger snapped photos. My yoga photo obsession was born.
But really it all started 30 years earlier. I was a snarly high school punk trying to get out of PE, so I signed up for yoga. Our teacher let us sleep in class! I felt relaxed and charged when we were done. Running away from PE brought me home to my body and helped me embrace athletics without teams or competition.
As my appetite for wild adventure grew, so did my appetite for yoga. When I’m climbing, backpacking, skiing, canyoneering, surfing, paddling, or cycling, I do yoga every day. I’ve done yoga in my sleeping bag when I’m tent-bound during a hail storm. I’ve done yoga in a climbing harness, hanging from a cliff. I’ve done yoga on top of a picnic table after a long day of cycling. I’ve done yoga on my stand up paddle board while dolphins frolic 50 feet away. I’ve never done too much yoga. I’ve never gotten repetitive stress injury from yoga, no matter how many hours a day I devote to the practice.
Yoga is about so much more than stretching or striking a pose. Too often in daily life, our attention is dispersed — our mind is wandering, our breath is ignored, our body is slouching. Yoga joins our physical, emotional and mental selves into an organic whole. We stretch and strengthen, relax and rejuvenate, gather and release. We learn to focus attention, to trust our bodies, and to live from our hearts.
During shelter-in-place, I’ve been teaching yoga via Zoom. Hosting classes from my living room gets me out of my head and into my body. It gives structure to my days and allows me to connect with friends from all over the world. We laugh, we cry, we get ripped and zenned out. Yoga allows me to socialize safely and make a meaningful contribution in the lives of people I love. But I continue to take wild yoga photos whenever I journey somewhere spectacular. Yoga makes a landscape look more beautiful.
Look for my upcoming quarterly column “Wild Yoga” where I break down poses for all your favorite wilderness activities.