When one thinks of yoga, what often comes to mind are visions of flexible women in Lululemon tops and pants bending and breathing loudly. The truth is that this is what the western world thinks yoga is – stretching.
In reality, yoga is ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years and there are hundreds of different forms – it is far from just stretching. Actual yoga postures, known as asanas, are a tool on the path of yoga, not the goal.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, meaning to control, to yoke, or simply put “union”. Yoga is a philosophy of living. It is a way to integrate our personality, transcend our limitations, and eventually understand our true nature.
So what does Yoga have in common with a mountain side experience? Just as Yoga helps us experience our true nature and helps us live in the present moment so does being in the great outdoors doing things that we love to do.
In essence Yoga is a state of mind. My teacher describes and defines it well, yoga is “intimacy with self”. I have had glimpses of this intimacy, a strong connection to understanding my true nature, while being in the mountains and connecting with the outdoors. Hiking on a mountain ridge, resting beside a waterfall in silence and even sitting having a lunch on a mountain top with friends sharing in conversation and laughter – it’s at these times where the rushing world slows down enough to notice the tiny but important moments of serenity with myself.
Yoga is also philosophy of living. When we are out there hiking or skiing we are alive! That allows us to feel more connected to who we are – an opportunity to experience a true sense of peace and solitude.
By Angie Smith
Yoga Instructor/Co-host of Bodacious in the Bugaboos.
Photo: Angie Smith in the Bobbie Burns, by Roko Koell.