I’m on vacation. Easy to relax and stay in self, right? Not so much. I woke up Saturday with trepidation about hiking the Grand Canyon with my brother. He’s 7 years younger, and in far better shape. There was fear and especially a sense that I might not be able to succeed. Or be able to set limits. Or even know my limits.
But I got on my yoga mat and walked myself through a very simple practice, channeling Shakti Yoga teachers of course, but also Christina Sell. Her standard for teaching yoga classes is that each class/practice include–
- Sun salutation
- Belly down backbends
- Quad stretches
- Hamstring stretches
- Standing poses
It’s a good guide. And at the end of a half hour or so of moving in tune and in time with my body and this simple guidance, I found my center, and felt ready for the day and all it would bring. I don’t think anything would have prepared me for the Grand Canyon.
In spite of driving within an hour of the Canyon many times as a kid, on family drives to the family farm in Missouri, this was my first time to see it. At age 71. Breathtaking. Speechless. It felt as big as Iowa as I looked down into it and across it. Defines awesome.
Coming from the flatlands…of Iowa, I was not really prepared for the sharp switchbacks, for the descent or the altitude. But we took one step at a time, and chunked it down. We snacked on trail mix, apples and little hard caffeine candies Dave brought home from Ethiopia.
On the way to Indian Garden (soon to be Havasupai Garden), there are rest stops at the 1.5 and 3 mile marks. At the 3 mile mark we reconnoitered. Did we have enough daylight and energy to do the rest of the 5 miles? As the trail leveled out we saw a small clearing that seemed to define what the area is named for–a garden. Soon we came upon the campground and rest area, with welcome water and benches.
The place where we knew we’d turn around. At first the ascent seemed easier than the descent, on the knees at least. Toward the end of the hike there were times I wasn’t sure I could make it. So I took another page from yoga and just breathed. And took one step and another. I passed groups, and groups passed me. Strangers cheered me on, and we told each other we were glad to be there.
So many parallels to life. Don’t lose your sense of wonder. Live as if you’re ready for your body to feed the vultures. Know you have nothing to prove. Encourage others. Accept help and support. Choose what you want in your life. Test your limits to grow your confidence. Have courage as you face the everyday challenges that feel overwhelming.
And remember to breathe, pause, focus, reset, and center.