My first exposure to yoga was at my gym in a dimly lit mirrored room. My gaze drifted from my reflection, to the instructor, to those seasoned students doing advanced expressions of each pose. I struggled to focus solely on the instructor’s verbal cues and instead found myself following those around me. When we finally transitioned from standing flow to our bellies, I was grateful. I took a quick peek at my watch for a time check, not much longer. Finally, we made our way into savasana. I wondered how long it would last and used the time to make a mental grocery list of what I needed to pick up at Trader Joes after class.
It wasn’t a bad class or a weak instructor, it was me. I didn’t know the poses physically or by name. I had no idea what it meant to be present in a yoga class or at the gym in general. Yoga seemed painfully slow to a cardio-lover like myself. For a long time I thought that yoga just might not be for me.
Shortly after this experience I went on a surfing vacation to Cost Rica. While there, I was convinced to take an outdoor yoga class in Montezuma. Surrounded by lush green vegetation with the sound of the waves in the distance, I experienced my first full yoga class outdoors and it was transformative. Moving through our poses amid the fresh air and beauty of the outdoors seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I remember saying, “I would practice yoga every day, if it was outdoors!”
Many years and many yoga classes later (both indoor and outdoor), I am putting those words into action and combing two of my favorite activities, yoga and hiking! Spending time outdoors with friends has always been a big part of my lifestyle. As an avid runner and hiker I am out on the trails several times a week. As yoga became more a part of my routine, I would find myself taking breaks at favorite spots in the woods and along the river to enjoy a little yoga before getting back on the trail. It wasn’t long before I realized how complimentary these two activities are together.
Yoga Hikes makes for a fun, active, outdoor yoga experience that can be enjoyed anyone. It breaks down a 45-60 minute open-level yoga practice into short intervals and integrates them into a 90 min. – 2 hour hike. It’s a combination of nature, accessible yoga, and cardio in a small group atmosphere.
It’s funny to think back to those days when I dragged myself to yoga, but I’m so glad I did. I have grown to love my gym yoga, my studio yoga, and my outdoor yoga experiences. There are many ways to practice yoga and part of the journey is finding the way that speaks to your mind and your body. Finding my way led me to start Yoga Hikes DC, an experience I hope others will find as enjoyable as I do!