Reaching the Summit, a lesson in Ego

 Mt. Chocorua, Tamsworth, NH just 20 feet from Summit.

Mt. Chocorua, Tamsworth, NH just 20 feet from Summit.

Mapping out a trail plan, I carefully mark cutoffs, inclement weather alternatives, elevation, mileage, grade percentage and weather. I make a list of essential items to pack and double check the GPS coordinates for parking. I complete my pre-hike checklist and pack the car. Charging my watch and headlamp I feel prepared for the excursion I have planned.

The alarm sounds at 4:30 am and I wonder why I thought this was a great idea to get such an early start, but recall the 2 hour drive to the trail. I want to make sure I leave plenty of time for climbing without the added stress of racing daylight. My stomach feels a bit off, but I shrug it off as a a bi-product of the 10-mile solo hike in the almost hourly changing weather of freeze and melt I have ahead of me. While traveling, I listen to podcasts because I find they give me plenty of ideas and self investigative topics to explore on my 4-5+ hour hikes.

This particular podcast was an Oprah Winfrey, Super Soul Sunday -fitting for this Sunday drive. In this special edition, Oprah speaks of her book, "The Wisdom of Sunday's"  . Her book provides insights from some of the most insightful Super Soul Conversations. One quote in particular struck me in this podcast. It was Wayne Dyer's definition of Ego. Quite simply, he said, "Ego means to Edge God Out." In the moment I recall thinking, "what an interesting concept." But then I continued on the drive.

I reach the parking for the trail and there are surveillance cameras for the private property you park at for the winter. A sign for a $3.00 fee is listed on a yellow sign with a camera and the directions, "pay at house" with an arrow. I reach in my wallet and of course I only had $2.00. Chock that up for one thing I missed on my pre-check. The closest gas station is 15 minutes one direction but I have no choice. Now I have added 35 min extra (5 min to go in) to this travel.

When I finally get back to pay the parking I am almost 45 min behind my schedule, but still I feel confident in this hike. I have climbed more than 30,000 ft this month and seen a plethora of terrains. I strap my backpack on, set my watch and GPS to track my climb. 

I come to the first sign of the hike. I am taking the Piper Trail and the arrow points straight to continue on this path to lead to Middle Sister. The All Trails app says to follow the Piper Trail so I decide to go straight. I bet you can guess just by the mentioning of this particular directional note that this was NOT the correct way to go. The trail does not in fact connect to Middle Sister. It goes straight up to Mt. Chocorua summit. That part is actually okay. Most of the trek is slushy and balmy. You sink 4-5" down in the slush. It becomes just enough to fatigue your legs and make your pack feel like you are hauling a small hobbit on your journey to the Dark Tower. ha ha.

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Once I get 2 miles into the hike the slush becomes sheer ice and tree roots. It's an exhilarating combination of elements for any hiker. Finally I break the tree line and catch a glimpse of the mountain top of Middle Sister and Mt. Chocorua. The visual makes all the slogging worth it. I carefully place my footing up the icy boulders and dig my crampons in firmly to ensure solid footing. Just .8 mile away from the summit, the challenge becomes a rock scramble over icy ledges and the winds have reached 35 mph. Feeling the wind beneath my wings, becomes more than a Bette Midler hit from 1988. My hiking poles are being swept up and my footing is getting less and less stable.

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Finally I can see the last boulders I must ascend to reach the true summit of Mt. Chocorua. A huge wind gust comes and almost rips my pole out of my hand while simultaneously almost dislodging me from the rock face. My heart races and I cling to the side of the rock. A scripture runs through my head out of nowhere. Psalm 107:28, "Then they cried out LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses."

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I took God's not so subtle hint that the 20 feet between me and summit would remain unclaimed. I sat down for a moment to let it sink in. I planned this trip, every trail marker and snow drift and even checked underground weather reports. I knew my skill and felt confident that I could summit this mountain. It's all I thought about. I mean, no one creates a plan to summit a mountain to go halfway up and say, "ehh nevermind."

I felt like this is exactly what happened to me. It felt like I was giving up and throwing in the towel. But how many times in our lives have we set out on a goal and when we miss it in our first attempt find ourselves spiraling down into the self-pity valley and swept away in the river of "i'm not good enough."? The truth is that if you look at some of the most successful people in business, sports and health they have failed far more times than they have succeeded. It's the failures that give us the lessons we need to emerge stronger. This is similar to the muscle breakdown in a workout that is necessary to build strength. We need that breakdown (hit failure in a rep series) to build up our muscles. So look at failure as your way of building mental strength. Try digesting that metaphor staring at your "so close" summit.

The lessons didn't stop at the failed summit. As I descended down the mountain I got my crampon caught between two boulders and almost slid down an sheet of ice off a 50-foot cliff. My heart was on overdrive and adrenaline was coursing through my veins. As I slogged through the last 3 miles I lost my crampons in the snow twice because I kept post-holing (dropping into the snowy, ice mix) and I had to build a bridge to cross a river with downed trees and two rocks I could lift. So what lessons did I learn from these experiences? I learned perseverance. I reminded myself why I wanted to summit the mountain in the first place (my "why" statement). 

I finished that climb with more determination than ever to set a new date, create a new plan and conquer that mountain. That day was not my day to summit, but I refuse to let it be the end of my story. You have a choice in your goals. Let a setback or failed summit convince you the journey is lost, or let it expose what needs to be strengthened, trained and adapted so you finally reach your summit.

Whatever you decide, don't let your EGO convince you that you are a failure. Even if you don't believe in God, you can see Ego as "Edging Greatness Out". Don't let your greatness fall short because Ego makes you doubt. I was reminded that God created the mountains and He can move them from my path. But that sometimes he leaves them there for me to grow, learn and elevate my thinking. Let us all elevate our mindset and THRYVE ON.

Harnessing your "Super Powers" and understanding your alter ego

Harnessing your "Super Powers" and understanding your alter ego

If we inventory our personal "super powers" and start to understand what an alter ego looks like we begin to unlock unlimited potential for growth. Whether you want to change the way you eat or the job you are in, "Harnessing your super hero and understanding your alter ego" will give you steps to start taking action-- no cape required.

New Program Roll Out... taking adventures to new heights

New Program Roll Out... taking adventures to new heights

There is more than one way to use your hammock on your next camping adventure. Join THRYVE in this unique practice that transforms your hammock into restorative yoga playground. Increase your spinal traction for more comfortable sleep and recover your body for longer adventures by learning all the ins and outs of how to fuse yoga and your hammock in a bundle of absolute adventurer bliss.  

5 Elements of Yoga

The Path of the Five Elements

Yoga is a practice that moves from subtle (a thought, feeling or intention) to gross (a movement in the body, or a physical action) and then back to subtle (bliss, freedom, enlightenment). It’s this beautiful dance of cause and effect that inhabits our entire consciousness.

The five elements unfold in a similar way, moving from subtle (space and air) to gross (water, earth).  They are the constituent parts that come together to create our minds, our bodies, our yoga practice and our experience of living.  And they provide a beautiful context for us to expand and enjoy it all.

So to honor our connection with everything around us, and bring us back to ourselves, it’s enlightening to explore each of the five elements in our practice of yoga and life.

1. Space

The container for everything. It is pure possibility and potential.  It feels like stillness, freedom, and awareness.  Space is both a cause and the result of a blissful yoga practice (and life).  It supports and fuels transformation by providing a place for the magic to happen.  Creating space requires discipline, but experiencing it is pure freedom.

Creating space in your yoga is a matter of… Being present and aware of what you’re holding in, up or onto – whether it is a thought, an emotion, or any form of tension — and allowing yourself to let it go.

Yoga Poses: Basket Headstand, Wheel, Camel Pose, Fish Pose

2. Air

Movement, expansion and lightness.  The breath in and out of the body, the opening and contraction of the muscles and the mind.  The element of air gives us rhythm, grace, mobility and a sensation of mental and physical openness.  Air fuels the body and stokes the fire of inspiration.

Infusing air into your yoga comes from… An awareness of the breath.  Pranayama or breath control is a great way to open and tap into the subtle channels of the body — clearing the way for ideas, inspiration, energy and love to flow.  As you move through life and your practice, notice how the breath feeds the body and mind.  Breathe into the expansion and contraction of the muscles, joints, and connective and supportive tissues to create the sensation of lightness and openness.

Yoga Poses: Cat/Cow, Bridge, Bow

3. Fire

Discipline, transformation, inspiration.  The fire in our practice is experienced as intensity and abundance. The heat and energy created is the result of the action, dedication and focus put into the practice.  Ultimately, our fire delivers purification.  It creates insight that allows us to see and engage with what’s important and burn the rest.

Lighting the fire in your yoga is about…Two words: engaging bandhas.  Oh, and three more words: moving from center.  Fire lives in the belly (surprise!) — our center of power, intuition and freedom.  The use of our core muscles connects us to the spark at the center of who we are, and engaging the bandhas helps us keep the fire burning.

Yoga Poses: Plank, Tiger Pose, Revolved Lunge, Chair

4. Water

Fluidity, connection, adaptability.  It shows up in our ability to consciously hold on and at the same time, let go.  It fuels our practice with compassion and resilience that return to us as fluid movement, supple muscles, steady joints, agile minds.

Bringing the water to your yoga means…Cultivating a softness in your practice (particularly in the joints), and nurturing a physical, mental and emotional sensitivity that favors response rather than reaction. It also means moving fluidly through your practice, synchronizing movement with breath, opening, feeling and yielding in a way that is powerful and sustaining. Or, in the immortal words of Bruce Lee “Be[ing] like water.”

Yoga Poses: Pigeon Pose, Striking Cobra, Bound Angle Pose, Frog Pose

5. Earth

Earth is home. It is structure, cohesion, and foundation.  It’s the centered, grounded, and authentic, expression of you and everything around you. Earth is the sensation that we want to return to, the physical stillness that creates mental and emotional stillness, and vice versa.

Cultivating the earth in your practice is about…Establishing your foundation (feet, hands, sit bones).  It’s about maintaining an awareness of how the state and position of these physical landmarks contribute to your overall experience of stability and ease (sthira and sukham).  And remembering that every pose right through to Savasana is an opportunity to return home.

Yoga Poses: Mountain pose, Tree pose, Squat pose, Cobra

Home Workout to Challenge your Power, Grip and Stability

For this workout you will need a Kettlebell or you could use a 1 gallon water bottle or detergent bottle with liquid in it. You will also need a jump rope. 

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Warm-up:

3 Rounds

5 KB Windmills on the Left Side

5 KB Windmills on the Right Side

10 KB Swings

10 KB Goblet Squats

10 KB Offset Push-ups (5x/side)

 

Strength: KB Deck Squat to Overhead Press 3 x 8 reps go as heavy as you can in good form.

Workout: Follow all of Set A with as little rest as possible. Rest 1 min between sets and 2 min between Set A & B and B & C.

A1: 4 x 10 KB Around the Worlds (5x/each direction)

A2:  4 x 10 Alternating KB Floor Press (5x/arm)

A3: 4 x 8 Double KB Front Squat

A4: 4 x 8 each leg Single Leg KB Deadlift

B1: 5 x :30 Jump Rope (Sub jumping jacks if you do not have a rope)

B2: 5 x :30 Alternating KB Swings

B3: 5 x :30 KB Chest Press Flutter Kicks

C1: Jump Rope Sprints 15 x :15 

 

Sedona Yoga Festival Sequences

Sedona Yoga Festival was such an amazing experience and we wanted to make sure that you could continue the experience anywhere in the world. That is why we have attached a the link for two full length 60 min vinyasa classes taught at Sedona Yoga Festival.

Run Free-- Yoga Practice for the Endurance Yogi

 Strengthen and balance your lower body in this 60 minute vinyasa sequence. This class has a nice balance of movement, strength building, core work and flexibility as you wind down with some nice work for your hamstrings and hips. This class is a great off season conditioning practice to use to stay strong. It can also be used as cross training during your season to supplement your speed work or interval run days.

 

Warrior Spirit Sequence

Drawing from a personal experience through cancer, I have developed a practice that invokes each student's inner warrior. Bruce Lee once said that, "what makes a successful warrior is the average man with laser focus." Through this practice students will focus their drishti on breath and movement as a moving meditation. Firing up our centers (core) to march and move as one. This flow will make you sweat, but feel so good. Drawing inspiration from martial arts, calisthenics and dance each student will leave finding new ways to harness their inner warrior on a daily basis.

 

And I also added the Playlist from Run Free because I had so many requests about the music. Enjoy!!

This is a quick reference for the middle sequence of the Warrior Spirit Flow.