Day 4 – Back to Kayaking and Yoga

This day, like that last few, began very early in the morning. With my typical early waking time and a two-hour time difference, I was awake before 6 with no one to keep me company. I took advantage of the quiet and did yoga on the porch. Practicing outside, I felt grounded, empowered, and uplifted by my surroundings – the sound of the river flowing so powerfully as to have carved out a gorge, yet so gracefully that the tiniest of creatures can take refuge in and around it.

I allowed my body to take on those same qualities, finding strength in each posture and flowing gracefully through. I had no distractions, nowhere to be, no one telling me what to do. I was able to just listen to my body and do what felt right. And it did feel right. I comfortably held poses and executed arm balances I never had before. I could have stayed in savasana all day. When I did get up and look at the clock I thought hardly any time had passed but saw that I’d been practicing for an hour and a half.

Carrying this with me into the rest of the day set me up for success in several ways. Mentally, I was present and positive. Physically, I was rejuvenated. Those things I expected. What I didn’t expect was for our instructors to use yoga as an example for explaining how to kayak effectively and efficiently. The most meaningful connection for me was the idea that power comes from posture. I can put my body in to what looks like the right position and move it generally the way I should, but I’m not going to get very far that way and will expend more energy than necessary. If proper posture is used and the larger muscle groups are engaged I’ll have more mental and physical energy to guide me through the stressful parts.

We traveled to a different section of the river this day. It had a faster current but less rapids. It allowed each of us to choose how we wanted to spend the day – relaxing and socializing, working on technique, or finding a magical balance between the two. I worked specifically on my forward paddling technique. Even though I’d been paddling for several days at this point I’d been focusing on the wide, steering strokes. Any forward strokes I was making were just instinctual movements. As it turned out, these instincts weren’t very efficient. It took a lot of adjustments and practice, but the instruction I received for these shorter forward strokes made my journey easier and enabled me to enjoy more of the trip.

Relating these concepts to life, I thought about the way we all try to rush through life sometimes. We burn ourselves out paddling like hell to get from one milestone to the next and miss the great views along the way. If we can slow down the pace and be mindful of how our actions serve our goals and intentions then maybe we can actually enjoy the journey.

#firstdescents #msawareness #tarkiomontana

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