I was walking above the stunningly beautiful Toachi River Canyon in Ecuador, chatting with Edmundo, our tour guide. My husband and the rest of the group conversed amicably as they ambled along behind us. Edmundo was slightly ahead of me, and when he turned round a bend in the trail, I followed him without even thinking about it.
As I did, I immediately saw that the terrain had drastically changed. My eyes widened and my voice faltered as I realized we were now hiking along a ridge that was a slight two feet wide flanked on both sides by a sheer 800-foot drop. Edmundo had to take only one look at me to know what was going through my mind, so he casually observed, “Oh, yeah, this is a little bit high up, but we’re going to a place where you really feel like you’re flying!” My mind was screaming, “But I don’t want to fly! I just wanted to take this little half-hour walk with you to stretch my legs after a four-hour car ride!”
My fear wanted me to turn back, but that wasn’t an option, so I knew that I would just have to get through this next part of the hike. It lasted an alarmingly long 30 minutes. The group got quiet, as everyone concentrated on staying atop the ridge. No one was panicking, but at the same time, it would have been easy to lose focus and fall, and falling would have been . . . well, it was better not to think about that.
And then it started to rain. Of course. “This is my first ‘Outward Bound’ adventure,” I tried to joke to myself. I was trying to get control of my mind, which I knew was my only option. Fortunately, I had developed a Kundalini yoga practice, and it sometimes required me to overcome fear, fatigue, boredom, and distraction in order to get through the difficult kriya (exercise sets) by surmounting my negative mind. I knew I needed to use my positive mind to get to neutral mind and master the circumstances with grace. So that’s what I did. I basically meditated my way through the situation by meeting fear with mantra.
Soon enough, of course, the terrain changed again and we began to climb. This part was long and tough, but at least there was no danger of a long and possibly fatal fall, and we could take breaks. In the end, that half-hour walk turned into a two-and-a half-hour hike that required some effort to get through, but I’m actually grateful for what I learned from it.
In this experience, two of the things I love most in life—Ecuador and yoga—came together in a very concrete and instructive way. What’s more, it convinced me that something I had been thinking about for a long time would be a good plan: a yoga retreat that would blend these two parts of my life and allow me to share them with others in a way that would enhance their lives.
So if you’re up for some (safe!) adventure tourism and amazing yoga in a beautiful, high-energy place, please visit www.ecuadoryogaretreats.com and read about the richly restorative get-away we’re offering at summer solstice (June 28-July 4). We’ll be taking new approaches to yoga (Hatha and Kundalini) and meditation: hiking yoga, aqua yoga in thermal pools, yoga on pre-Inca pyramids, Andean wisdom, and much more. You’ll acquire many tools that can help you meet those fearsome challenges we all encounter with the grace that only a neutral mind can give you.
Once you’re on the website, please feel free to write or call me for any questions.