There are few things that I enjoy more than being in the woods. Out in nature, the wind on my face, the smell of plants filling my lungs, the feel and sound of limbs and leaves crunching under my feet. It gives me such peace and truly makes me feel one with the universe. I feel such happiness and even writing about it now slows my heart rate and reminds me to take a deep breath. However, I’ve recently discovered something even better than just walking in the woods…yoga in the woods. I’ve never really been a big yoga person, but lately I’ve been doing much more of it.
About two months ago I injured myself pretty badly while working out so I was forced to cease almost all physical activity for almost four weeks. I started physical therapy at that point and the first thing they had me do was stretch. It hurt, a lot, but I knew I had to do it in order to wake up the muscles that I had not been using and begin the healing process. During this course of bodily torture I realized that the stretching exercises (most of which were your basic, and even some complex, yoga moves) actually calmed my nerves, made me less anxious, relieved pain, steadied my breathing, chased away some of the depression I had been feeling, and helped to elevate my over all attitude. For this reason I began making my appointments for the morning time because it always seemed to make the rest of my day go much smoother after I had completed my physical therapy. As my physical therapy continued I started to incorporate my stretches into my morning routine at home. I’m not really sure why, as I don’t know the science behind it, and it may be mostly a mind trick, but it has really made a difference. During this process I had noticed that my depression was slowly creeping back in and I knew I had to do something. I was sitting a home last week, and as I’ve finally gotten to the point that I can walk without too much of a limp, and I can put my full weight on my foot and back, I decided to go for a hike. As I slowly and carefully walked through the woods my mind began to slip back into that comfortable and welcome place of peace and stillness. I stopped, put down my backpack, closed my eyes, and breathed. Deeply. It was incredible. Being back in the place I love after almost two months of being confined to the house and my work, truly brightened my day and calmed my entire body. I started to stretch, not even realizing I was doing it, and before I knew it I was doing yoga. Right there in the woods. I took off my shoes and my bare feet gently meshed with the ground and leaves. My muscles welcomed the stretches and my lungs were grateful for the fresh air. I think I did this for about 30 minutes, although I had honestly lost track of time probably five minutes in so I’m not really sure. When I finished my hike and made it back to the house my mind was in a state that it had not been in a long time…complete ecstasy. I was somewhat emotional, happy, energetic, peaceful, calm, and there was not a single thing that could’ve ruined my day.
I’ve only done this twice so far, but I will definitely continue. It just goes to show that happiness can be found in the most basic of places. I didn’t spend a single dollar, I didn’t travel to some foreign country. I was simply there, about a mile from my home, in the woods with my bare feet on the ground. That is where I found happiness. That is where I began to breathe again.