“Body like a mountain, Heart like an ocean, Mind like the sky” –Dogen
I switched my headlamp off as the first light of dawn exposed my otherworldly orientation with the sea of clouds below me and the mysterious snow covered formations looming above. The cold wind chilled the exposed skin on my face. The secure crunching sound of my crampons biting into the icy snow orchestrated with the swing of my ice axe. My lungs filled to capacity with the rise and fall of each breath as we gained altitude. The nauseating smell of sulfur reminded me that I was on an active volcano. The tension of the rope held the intimate connection between my climbing partner and I as we approached the summit of Mt. Hood last month. Climbing a mountain is indeed an experience of sensory awareness.
My journey with yoga and scoliosis began when I was a teenager living in a small town in Wisconsin. I starting having some discomfort and pain in my back and was soon diagnosed with a significant curvature in my spine. The options for treatment sounded bleak – bracing and the possibility of having surgery for a spinal fusion if it got worse. I ended up wearing a back brace for about four challenging years. During the four hours a day that I wasn’t wearing the brace, I moved my body as much as I could.
Yoga and rock climbing are a natural match, both combining mindful movement and bringing focus to the present moment.
I began dreaming about Nepal years ago. The Himalayas, the living yogic traditions, and the sacred temples and stupas called to me. BKS Iyengar’s quote, “Move from the known to the unknown” became my mantra. This last year, I decided I would try to spend my next birthday in Nepal and set an intention as I began to research how to combine my love of traveling with my passion for sharing yoga.