Lessons from the Tetons

Last year I knew wanted to hike in Grand Teton National Park. What I didn’t know was that desire would turn into a 4-day adventure that would test my will and comfort zone along with bringing me up close and personal to the expansive beauty of nature. Most of all, it reminded me what Living feels like. And I would do it again in a heartbeat!

So, this was the first time I ever attempted a trip like this. I have camped for a weekend here and there, but I have always had showers and a way to contact someone in an emergency. This trip I have neither for 4 days! The initial plan was to loop around Grand Teton Peak in 5 days, 54 miles. Matt, however, was convinced we could do it in 4 (eyeroll, lol) and that meant at least 12.5 -15 miles a day hiking, and not to mention the 30lb pack we each were carrying.

A few weeks out I talked to the park and they told us their winter came late and was heavy so the trails were mostly snow covered but having the will (or some may call it stubbornness) we wanted to stick to the plan and encircle the Tetons. We walked out on a Friday morning keeping our fingers crossed the snow wasn’t as bad as they were saying. Low and behold we ran into a Warden and he said it wouldn’t be possible and gave us a new itinerary. We still were getting back to the Teton Crest Trail, or so we thought, just coming down a canyon not as far north.

So, on the second day we headed further into the mountains. We began to hit patches of snow and loose the trail occasionally. At first, it was fun and challenging but as the snow became more widespread and the mountains got steeper the fun and challenge turned into fear and survival mode. We got to the top of a peak with no trail in sight, only snow. I knew it was time to tap out and turn around when the stress/fear/anxiety/adrenaline, call it what you want, turned into tears. The walk back was slow and careful as the snow was quickly softening in the afternoon warmth. We made it back to solid land, set up camp, and made a backup plan to the backup plan.

By the end of our hike we still managed 10+ miles per day, 50 miles total, gaining and losing 1000-2000 feet each day. PHEW!!! The weather was almost too perfect, lol, because at 8500ft, above tree line, and not a cloud in sight, the sun is quite warm. Lastly, it was bittersweet to walk out and see crowds of people, cars and hear the dings of text messages.

Like I said in the beginning, I would do it again in a heartbeat because the beauty and simplicity of the backcountry outweighed any of the challenges - the sound of rushing water, wildlife in their natural habitat, humans being the minority. We probably drank the freshest and cleanest water we have ever drank.

We were Living. Living the way we are meant to live. We enjoyed pushing past our comfort zone every day. We found freedom and joy in the unknown, letting go of control and allowing nature to dictate our plans. It reminded us that the things we worry about are minuscule to the bigger picture and it is mother nature who is in control, not us. So, take that adventure, whether it be physical, mental, personal or professional, and see what using your full potential feels like.

My Month at Yogaville

Words are hard to come by when trying to express what a month at Yogaville meant to me.  It was beautiful, simple, mind blowing, insightful, accepting (ok, maybe I found a few words); a place I didn’t just stay at for a month… a place I kindly called home for a month.  I found peace there.  I found my purpose there.  I found a connection to a part of me that I didn’t know was there. 

I took this journey with 8 other people; Lisa, Monica, Gwen, Francesca, Tia, Nancy, Leela.  I love them all for helping me grow.  With a large group you get many different personalities and perspectives, and when you are required to accept them into your life for a month you learn a lot about yourself.  I became close to a few and butted heads with a few, but it is the people I did not relate with that gave me the best insight about myself.  I very easily could have kept my distance and stayed in my bubble of comfort, but after a few days I realized I was missing a chance to grow by building a barrier just because my perspective was different than theirs.  I learned that, even though we may have different viewpoints, it is about respect, and when I am centered in respect I can counter with my viewpoints without being defensive, aka an adult discussion which we don’t see enough of lately.  When I drop my barrier and allow myself to truly listen whether or not my values align with theirs I give myself the opportunity to learn something new. 

The question I get most is, “what did you all do there? Just yoga?”.  Well, yeah, but what most people don’t realize is Yoga is more than your typical yoga class.  It’s a lifestyle that integrates the relationship between your mind, body, and spirit.  I meditated 3 times daily to remain focused on my goal and connect with my Inner Self.  I did a daily physical practice (alternated between yoga class and running) to stay strong in my body.  I read the ancient texts and went to discussions to deepen my understanding of Yoga Philosophy.  I worked (Karma yoga, aka selfless service) 24 hours a week in the kitchen, farm, and guest services to learn to give without expecting anything in return.  Doing this for a month helped me realize that there is more to me than just my body and mind.  I tapped into something deep within me, an energy that is constant, never-changing.  PEACE.  I have never felt as content as I did living in Yogaville. 

Wanna hear something crazy? (if you don’t think I am already, lol).  EVERYONE has this constant, never-changing, peaceful energy within them.  We just cover it up with thoughts, to-do lists, material items, things we are told from a young age are important.  Yes, we need these things to live, but… we can also have this serene sense of contentment as well.  THIS is what I did for a month.

I can hear you already… “I don’t have time to do all that stuff”.  Being home now I don’t either, but I’m slowly making changes to have time for SOME of the practices that I used while at Yogaville.  I am letting go of some of the old to make room for some of the new.  Is it easy?  NO!  But nothing worthwhile is easy.  Yoga Sutra 1.14 states, “Practice(change) becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness”.  In other words, change will not happen over night or in a week, it will come with consistency over a long period of time and with enthusiasm. 

Was it hard to come home? YES.  Do I yearn to go back? YES.  But, my path isn’t at an ashram, not yet at least.  I am here to empower others, YOU! my students and clients, to find peace in mind, body, and spirit.

OM SHANTI