Submitted by guest blogger, Kaet Wild
One thing I love about yoga is that it’s very minimal and you can practice anywhere. You don’t need a studio or a mat. You can practice inside or outside, in your bed, in the grass, at the beach, or even on top of a mountain. Lucky for us, we’re surrounded by endless mountains to practice yoga upon in the Adirondacks.
So you want to do yoga on a mountain? Let’s start with intention. The goal of the physical practice of yoga, the asanas or poses, is to bring the mind to a restful, calm state. If you arrive at the top of the mountain, and you’re already feeling blissed out and relaxed, find a flat rock away from any cliffs and take an easy seat. Put one hand on your heart, one hand on your belly, and take a few deep breaths. Stay here and enjoy the views and fresh air. Breathing and being in the moment is just as much yoga as downward facing dog.
If you do decide to move on to some asana, always start with a warm up, which you can do from your easy seat position. Sit tall, pull your navel in towards your spine, roll your shoulders down and back, and rest your hands gently on your knees. To warm up the spine, inhale and pull your chest forward through your biceps, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and arch through the upper back. Exhale and push your hands against your knees, round through the back, feeling your shoulder blades separate, and let your head hang. Continue this movement following your breath for ten or so breaths.
Continue to warm up the spine with some gentle twists. Return to your easy seat position, then inhale your arms up over your head. Exhale, twist to the left side placing your left hand on the ground behind you and your right hand on your left knee. Stay here for five to ten breaths, then switch sides.
Another favorite warm up of mine is a basic hamstring stretch. From your easy seat, extend both legs out in front of you. Keep a slight bend in both knees, roll your shoulders back and down, and leading with the chest, gently fold forward. If you have a dog laying on you, give him some pats.
There are plenty more seated postures you can practice and I invite you to explore those if you feel inclined.
If you’d like to move your practice up off the ground, a great place to start is with some sun salutations. Sun Salutation A, or Sun A as it is known, consists of seven basic poses: Mountain pose, Forward fold, Halfway lift, Plank, Low plank, Up dog, and Down dog.
Again, make sure you’re on a flat, dry rock face away from any edges. Sweep away any lose stones or pebbles. You can keep your boots on or go barefoot, whichever is most comfortable.
Start in Mountain pose by standing tall with your feet hips width distance, navel pulled in toward your spine, shoulders rolled back and down, and arms resting at your sides. Inhale as your arms reach up over your head towards the sky and as you exhale, fold forward. Keep a generous bend in both knees. Place your hands on your thighs with zero shame if you can’t reach the ground. (The point of yoga is to attain a restful state of being, not to touch your toes.) Inhale, raise your torso up so that your back is flat and parallel to the ground. Gaze is forward. Exhale as you plant your hands onto the ground, shoulder width distance apart, and step your feet back into Plank pose.
Take a breath in as you push the ground away from you and roll your shoulders back, pull your navel in toward your spine, and squeeze your thighs together. Exhale and lower your body as if you’re doing a push-up until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Straighten your arms, arch through your upper back, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you inhale into upward facing dog. Exhale, push the ground away from you and shift your weight backwards, leading with your sit bones until you arrive in Downward Facing Dog. Tip-toe your feet to meet your hands and inhale as you rise back into Mountain pose. Repeat as many times as you like or explore some other standing poses.
Just as you always warm up before asana, always cool down as well. Take an easy seat or lie on your back. Stretch. Breathe.
While you're in Lake Placid for your perfect vacation, try out other wellness activities, including fitness classes and spa services. You'll go home refreshed and invigorated.