If anyone has made a visit to Kings Park Botanical gardens at the weekend before, they will know that the spill out from the overflow car park can ruin a perfectly planned picnic. So imagine my delight on pulling up and being able to window shop at Aspects from the driver’s seat. It is, however, 8 am. Approximately 35 women, of all ages and walks of life are gathering together, yoga mats on backs, sturdy walking shoes double bowed on feet and the fresh shimmer of sunscreen on their brows. Pleasantries are swapped, but these women do not necessarily know each other – I know no-one. Except Diana from Dia -Yoga. Diana, the organiser of this gathering, is brimming with vitality and genuine kindness, as she greets everyone individually. These women have left their cosy beds on a non-work day. They have left children, babies, partners, dogs. They have set their alarms and travelled, some from Rockingham and Yanchep. They had forgone the late night out, the extra glass of wine or three or the into the night chat with friends, to be here on time, with an extra spring in their step.
This was not my first Yike with Diana and will definitely not be my last. When I first read about her two-hour yoga and hiking sessions, held both North and South of the river, at some of the most beautiful and too often, rarely visited, natural spots, I knew I’d found the perfect activity to connect my love of the outdoors and exercise but in a way that left me feeling fulfilled and not knackered. My outdoor runs are by no means a thing of the past, but I need to have a bit more sleep and a bit more time to enjoy them properly again just yet. The idea of the Yike is to meet somewhere of outstanding natural beauty, and there are plenty of these around Perth, do a 10 minute warm up, then have a mindful hike through the surrounds to then complete a 30 minute vinyasa. This is then followed by more walking and a final meditation and expression of gratitude to the area and each other for sharing the experience. As mentioned, this was my second of these sessions, my first being in November at Point Walter Reserve.
One of the things that we busy women rarely make time for is exercise that nourishes our body, mind and soul. Exercise is the most underused and underestimated ‘medicine’ for the mind as well as, of course, the body. We acknowledge that we must exercise to get fit, get into that swimsuit for the summer, get into that dress for that occasion. But do we actually recognise the benefits that exercise can have on the mind? We slog away on that cross trainer machine, watching the minutes tick down, wishing they would hurry up so we can get off the machine to rush home to start the list of evening jobs. By doing this we are actually missing out. There is so much more benefit that could be obtained from that 30 minutes then just a perky bum and a calorie deficit so we can eat cake at the weekend. Those of us who have experienced yoga, whether as a beginners one-off, or as seasoned yogis, will know how this exercise can benefit the mind. We understand that often in those moments of stretch and hold, or in the opportunity to rest at the close of the session, the mind is given the chance to focus on nothing but the here and now. This is mindfulness. It is the break in reliving past events, which we cannot change, or focusing on future ones, which we can never be sure of. What is happening right now is the only thing we can be certain of and if we give ourselves the space to be in that moment, we can really change how we view, act and react.
We recognise that we are all busy. Busy is the disease of our time. Or rather, dis – ease. Mental health issues, break down in relationships and physical illnesses all stem from the body being unable to manage everything we ask of it. One of the ways that we can help maintain good health in all of these areas is ensuring that we have Relaxation, Exercise and Creativity in our lives. Small acts, daily or once a week or monthly, whatever it takes. We must do these to stay well and feel fulfilled. This is difficult when we are already so ‘busy’, but once started, the benefits are immediate. It could be a 5 minute mindfulness app. on your phone before bed, a 10 minute park walk with the kids/ dogs after dinner, a spot of gardening. Straight away, you have done something you enjoy, it’s been for yourself, you’ve connected with your talents and you’ve moved and rested your body. We need to make those small but no less precious minutes for ourselves a priority. And the amazing thing about this is, we actually become more productive with our ‘busy stuff’, more effective workers, happier partners, friends and mothers.
The Yike experience for me gives me the opportunity to do these things in one joyful two-hour session. The hike is strenuous enough to make you break a sweat but not raise the heart beat too much. The yoga makes you appreciate the strength in your body and stretches you out half way through the walk. The meditation enables you to be grateful for the here and now, the earth you stand on, the air you breathe. Although you can talk to your fellow Yiker as you hike, Diana encouraged us all to do the majority of the return hike after the vinyasa in silence. She requested that we soul search and discover our sankalpa. Being a huge fan of Yoga Nidra as a powerful way to relax, I had already knowledge of this practise. I struggle terribly with meditation as I have a very loud mind that refuses to shut off. Yoga Nidra, when I discovered it, was a revelation to me. At last I had found a way to experience mental relaxation. But more of this another time. A sankalpa practice starts from the premise that you already have achieved your dreams or goals. All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and imagine yourself in that reality. As we commence 2018, many of us would have set New Year resolutions, and like every year, they are scraped by February with a feeling of failure, yet again. We struggle with them because they start from the assumption that we are not good enough at that time, and we use the term “ I will” repeatedly when we think of them. A sankalpa allows us to experience success with our dreams from the very start. This is why it is a better alternative to a resolution. It is in these moments of moving meditation and contemplation that the Yike gives me the third element, that of Creativity. The rhythm of walking , looking at nature and listening to my heart helps me compose my writings. I can’t just sit and write straight off. I run through my pieces in my head whilst moving before writing anything down.
At the end of the two hours we gather, sit on the ground, close our eyes and give thanks for the time and experience we have just had. The yike is unique in its ability to strengthen and stretch the body with the hike and the yoga; refresh, clear and refocus the mind; and finally grow our connection with our natural surroundings. I may only be able to do it every couple of months but this remarkable practice is invaluable in maintaining my own health and well-being, and giving me the opportunity to exercise, rest and create. I hope you will search out your exercise, rest and create opportunities and see the impact it too can have on your life.
For more information about the Dia – Yoga and Yikes