We interrupt these Yoga-centric posts with this – Volcano pics & a movement observation that was really relevant for me.
Last year Andres planned to propose at the top of the Ijen crater in Java when I mentioned that our retreat group was eager to do the trek from Bali to the summit.
Once our group realised how this would, in all probability, be an all night adventure starting at 11pm on the Bali side & ending at 11am back in our beds, we decided to give it a skip.
The proposal was no less special but in the back of our minds, Andres & I were still keen to own this experience one day.
Fast forward a year later – 2016 Bali Bliss Yoga Retreat was the perfect opportunity to take a few days to ourselves afterwards & make sure we ticked this one off for Andres’ 40th. It was absolutely worth it & a unique experience. Summiting at night is a must – very Lord of the Rings when you go into the crater!
From a physical point of view, it wasn’t the longest climb although there were some prolonged steep moments. I’ve never been much of a climber, having abandoned Table Mountain 20 minutes after starting in 2000 & feeling like a heart attack was imminent in the first 40min of climbing up Lions Head in 2008. I was nervous about getting up this one.
Here’s what saved me… (looking at the pics, a smart arse would probably say ‘the gas mask’, but we had to get up there first!)
- Moving from the hamstring as my power source & not dumping into my knees or depending on my quads for push. I felt no strain or work on either of these areas of the body in the days that followed.
- Left / Right balance in movement. I know that my Right side tends to dominate my Left & is therefore stronger (& tighter), so I actively focussed on allowing my Left use itself more, or at least equally.
- Left / Right balance in breath. The Yoga retreat is an ideal time to ponder the wisdom of Yoga breathing & be open to feeling this as a sound concept & physical benefit. In the same way that your days fluctuate between moments when you may feel more creative, masculine, feminine, energetic, lethargic, or moody, the idea of Ida & Pingala as two main energetic channels in the body stimulated by breath is something I can buy into.
So, to support even work on both sides of my body, I set an intention to have my Left nostril breathing equal to my Right, or more. This might sound ridiculous, but lets discuss sometime before we dismiss it (preferably on our next retreat!). If there is one practice that I would want to maintain & cultivate in our normal city life, it’s a daily moment for this breathing.
- Watching the way the locals move, especially when walking back down hill. This was a revelation & something I got quite excited about. It’s so steep coming back that tourists are likely to slip & slide & landing on your arse is likely unless you really focus. Yet the Sulphur miners are walking downhill easily, carrying a basket that ways around 70kg whilst they probably weigh around 50kg.
So what was the secret? I chose to copy one guy in particular with his style of walk & this is what it told me… Deep Front Line. Lateral Line. A beautiful balance between the two as they were fired up from his movement. I needed to walk downhill as if I was speed walking – with a side-to-side swing of the hips & putting one foot in front of the other, as if it was an exaggerated, high-speed catwalk. I had no fear of slipping – it was the most secure footing I could have on that incline.
The next day, the only pain/strain I could feel was was adductor muscle connection. This was a big deal for me & a lot of fun to accurately read movement patterns & efficient movement through what I understand of the Anatomy Trains so far.
Thanks for reading if you got this far!
If it wasn’t that exciting or didn’t make too much sense, then feel free to be in touch. Especially if you’re planning to climb a mountain!