I just spent 10 glorious days traveling in Italy with my friend Barbara, her daughter Abbie (whose bridal shower inspired Abbie's Spinach and Strawberry Salad), and five members of their family putting my new hip through its paces! I traveled with a group of women who were all each other’s family and frankly wondered, before we left, if I would be the 8th wheel! Instead, I was warmly embraced by them all, and enjoyed the restorative powers of exercise, conversation, laughter, and delicious food. I also understood my personal need for quiet time and took what I needed, stepping away from the group, to restore (usually with my book or net flix in bed). As we get older, not only do we know better what we need, I think we also gain the confidence to take it. A big shout out of gratitude to Annie who French braided my hair every day which made me feel so happy as we set out on our hiking adventures! The whole trip and experience made my heart full and the memories and pictures are already giving me joy.
While we spent 3 days in Florence, the bulk of our trip was spent on the Ligurian sea in Cinque Terre. Our goal was to hike between all five villages, and we accomplished that over 3 different days choosing quite strenuous routes. As we hiked the trails, literally climbing up steep and rocky steps, we were rewarded with walks that took us through vineyards, forests, along skinny, rocky paths that dropped off to the ocean, amazing views of the sea, the cliffs and so much more. While in our villa surrounded by lemon groves and vineyards, we also had amazing views. To go to the town of Monterosso, to get a coffee, the train or dinner, involved a hike up and down the mountain, sometimes multiple times per day. This whole adventure reminded me of my wander lust, my desire to push myself and my gratitude for what I can do. I have returned inspired to see more of the world, hopefully walking it versus on a bus!
This week let’s focus on our own personal adventures, and how doing something different can spark joy and inspiration. If going to Italy today is not in the cards, let’s try something new where we are! With my friend Lynne, I used to regularly hike all the RI trails, looking up new ones and trying them whenever we could. I am now inspired to dust those books off (or google them) and find some new places to explore. Maybe think about getting your bike out and riding one the bike paths or in a new neighborhood. While I have not yet tried it, the rail riders operate along the Old Colony Railroad in RI and goes along Narragansett Bay. It is on my list! Move your body, breathe, explore new things – this too is yoga!
Our Practice – Hiking as Yoga
If you plan to do some hiking, some stretching before and after is a great idea. Taking a yoga class or doing a short video would be helpful. Before hiking, warm up with your favorite poses and include:
• Standing forward fold
• Down Dog
• Low lunge
• Half Split
After hiking, a short practice including the following poses would be great:
• Easy Pose breathing and letting hips open, spine long.
• Down Dog
• Forward fold
• Seated or supine twist
My best advice is to listen to your body and do what feels good, stretching gently and helping your muscles restore.
(view from one of the villa windows)
Meditation – Walking Meditation
As we talk about adventure and hiking, I am reminded again about the joy of walking meditation. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. To get started with a walking meditation you may find it helpful to use one of those meditation apps on your phone. Since I am desperately trying to cut back on my screen use, I suggest that we review the below article in Chopra which talks about how to begin a walking meditation practice (trust me, it is not hard). We basically walk, without an actual destination, not focusing on counting our steps or getting to a destination, but just being present, letting go and breathing (ok, so it is a little hard). 🤣😂 I find walking in nature, perhaps at the end of a more purposeful or stimulating walk, a good way to transition into meditation.
I got a little distracted thinking about poems and songs that celebrate walking; who doesn’t remember Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves), Walk The Line (Johnny Cash), Walk Like An Egyptian (The Bangles)? …..I reined myself back in after going down a long rabbit hole on Spotify, and settled on John Denver’s, Rocky Mountain High. The song truly celebrates the joy of discovering and appreciating nature.
Enjoy this video of him performing this classic:
Nurturing with Food – Lemon and Caper Pasta
While in Italy, I served as sous chef to Annie Green who reigned over our villa’s kitchen. She made several delicious pasta dishes and I have yet, honestly, to replicate them. I did review several on the web that echo an amazing lemon and caper pasta that she made and attach the link here. I am sure it is delicious but without our personal lemon grove to gather the lemons, not sure if it will be quite as good. Buon Appetito.
See you on the mat!