I turned 50 on Easter Sunday, and it felt like a real milestone. Not one to get hung up on age, my birthday only worries me if I’m not happy with where my life is when it rolls around each April. This past year has been too busy to take much time for reflection, but I have experienced it as a time of growth, and am grateful to be where I am. I took a vacation week to embrace the rebirth symbolism of my birthday coinciding with Easter (something I can’t remember happening before), celebrate my life, and spend some time with myself.
On Thursday, as my vacation week was winding toward its end, my friend Gerry and I drove down to Big Basin to spend the day hiking. I had always heard how spectacular the trails there are, and it was a gift to be able to make a day of it. Gerry had both run and hiked in the vast park and knew a good route that would take us through the old growth redwood forests and past three waterfalls. In the morning we packed a picnic and some water, and hit the road. It takes about an hour and forty minutes to get to the area we wanted to hike from, but even the drive was beautiful.
A day spent in nature is incredibly renewing, and it was a perfect way to spend one of my birthday week days. It was one of the loveliest trails I’ve ever hiked, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But six hours is a long hike, and we both had tired feet and stiff ankles and knees by the end. We did some stretching in the parking lot before getting back in the car, and I did a bit more at home before bed (pigeon lunge is a post-hiking necessity), but I could still feel the hike in my body when I woke up the next morning. I hit the mat, craving my yoga practice to balance out the efforts of the previous day.
That morning’s practice was a pretty standard forward bend practice, with some flourishes to especially target the key areas affected by a long hike—feet, ankles, calves, knees, quads, hip rotators—and it was very effective. I felt renewed and joyous from the combination of a day of hiking followed by a long, luxurious practice the next day.
Hatha yoga is such a wonderful tool for taking care of our bodies, and I’m so grateful for it. While a hatha practice doesn’t necessarily end with the physical, it does start there, and the way it enhances my experience of existing in the physical realm is something I treasure. As I move into a new phase of this life, I’m very happy that I’m 50 in a body that’s been doing yoga for 25 years.
Practice Sequence: Post Hiking Forward Bends
adho mukha svanasana/downward dog pose
vinyasa: downward dog/lunge/three-leg dog
adho mukha eka pada raja kapotasana/pigeon lunge, w/ quad stretches
vajrasana/thunderbolt pose, w/ toes tucked under to stretch feet
garudasana/eagle pose/standing variation, to stretch shins & ankles
virabhadrasana 2/warrior 2
utthita trikonasana/triangle pose
prasarita padottonasana/wide leg standing forward bend
parsvottanasana/pyramid pose/one-sided standing forward bend
repeat prasarita, w/ shoulder stretches including Namaste hands
parivrtta trikonasana/revolved triangle pose
uttanasana/full standing forward bend
anjayanasana/full lunge w/ back knee down, plus quad stretch variations
supta virasana/reclined hero pose
sandasana/seated staff pose
gomukhasana/face of the cow pose
janu sirsasana/head to knee forward bend
krounchasana/parivrtta kraunchasana/baradvajasana 2—heron pose/revolved heron/seated twist w/ 1/2 lotus
triang mukhaipada paschimottanasana/three point forward bend
ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana/seated forward bend w/ 1/2 lotus
baddha konasana/bound angle forward bend
eka pada koundinyasana, seated version—by which I mean this:
upavista konasana/wide angle seated forward bend
baddha kurmasana/bound tortoise
eka pada sirsasana/reclined foot behind head (aka supta padangusthasana 4 variation)
eka pada sirsasana/seated foot behind head pose, upright & forward bending
paschimottanasana/pose for the west side of the body/full seated forward bend
parivrtta paschimottanasana/revolved seated forward bend
viparita karani (10 minutes)
seated meditation (5 minutes)