It appears that autumn is finally starting to creep into Connecticut. It’s back to pajama pants, socks and the comforter on the cooler nights, and I bundle in my lightweight hoodie and bedroom slippers to comfortably get through the chilly mornings. Days give way to sunny, yet mild temperatures. And as someone with heat and sun sensitivity, I embrace these days because it means that I can enjoy playing outdoors again.
Last week, it was so nice that I ventured outdoors to practice some yoga in our yard. Surrounded by a colorful mélange of flowers, the green, green grass and the deep roots of a magnificent tree, I felt more grounded at the same time as feeling freer. I was jazzed about my new, gripping yoga Toesox, which are a godsend for a flat-footed girl like me who often struggles to create as a solid triangle of balance with my feet to stabilize me in one-footed poses—my base foot typically tends to roll inward or face out instead of ahead.
Standing in front of the broad tree that is centerpiece of the yard, I brought my foot up into inner thigh and mimicked the tree’s rootedness in Vrksasana pose. I found myself able to balance there much longer than usual. Was it the toesox, or the fact that my feet could wrap around the uneven ground or the confidence of being back in a natural habitat that made me feel so steady? It was likely a combination of all three.
The last time I had practiced yoga outside, in the late spring or early summer, I recaptured the carefree abandon of my youth gymnast years, finding myself willing to try things I hadn’t done in ages—like fall backwards into a backbend without fear of landing on my head, ha. Knowing there was the cushion of grass to catch me and wearing shoes that clung to the earth of course didn’t hurt.
Last week, I again arched my back and reached for the grass with my outstretched hands. My torso lifted and opened to greet the sun and embrace the fresh air of nature, feeling safe and free enough to fully express my soul through body. After weeks of cooping myself inside to protect myself from the heat and humidity, I felt fully alive once again.
Yesterday, we woke up to mild weather and sun after rain the previous day. I had mentioned we go on a hike that weekend—it had been almost a year since my last one. To say I was itchy to get back on the trails is a gross understatement.
Last year at this time, I was about to sink into a really rough period of my previously controlled movement disorder, dystonia. Literally being unable to stay on my feet and muscles jerking uncontrollably for months had a sobering affect physically and emotionally. Fortunately, I was able to rediscover a semblance of control, strength and confidence on the yoga mat. My health became stable once again, but the uncertainty about doing anything more taxing with my legs lingered, especially in the draining sun.
With fall just around the corner, I decided couldn’t stay off the trails any longer—no matter how mild the trail. So we decided to take a hike in a place we’d never been before, which was recommended by my brother living in California—he’d read about the place online. In a state forest, the trails promised a view of six waterfalls. While it wasn’t exactly the best time of the year to catch waterfalls at the dwindling end of the summer, the route was short enough to be manageable and the woodsy scenery was sure to be picturesque.
We discovered the main, marked trail which was fairly flat and mild, so we scrabbled down closer to the stream of waterfalls, scampering up and down muddy inclines, crisscrossing fallen trees and hopping rocks to explore both sides of the falls. While a couple of the falls lacked force, others were very beautiful. We imagined returning on a hot summer day in the future when we could cool off with a dip under the falls.
True, this was no trek in Nepal. However, it was a big leap forward to fully embracing more of my “old life” again. It was refreshing to feel my heart pumping and challenging my muscle legs even more. Back outdoors with the man I love, I felt overcome by a deep peace and contentment. It reminded me that there are few things more life affirming and rejuvenating for me than spending an hour or two soaking in nature.