This is a featured article by Yoga lover and world traveller Carri Uranga. Her passion for yoga began as an outdoor enthusiast seeking flexibility and crosstraining after thru-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 1998.
I was first introduced to Yoga at home in Texas after hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1998. It was offered at my local gym and always looking for something new, I took the class three times a week. These particular classes were pretty basic and easy, but I still went since I rarely stretched on my own.
Yoga to the Rescue
I figured a Yoga class would force me to stretch and after walking 2150 miles across the country I definitely needed to do something different with my body! There were three of us students and sometimes the instructor wouldn’t even show up so another more experienced student would lead the class.
The following year, when we moved to Vermont, a friend suggested we take an Ashtanga for Beginners class together. I was instantly hooked. I couldn’t believe how your body could work so physically hard yet your mind remained calm.
My heart rate was actually elevated yet I was standing still…fascinating! The long-lasting effects of Yoga on my body and mind intrigued me.
From then on I sought after various series and classes; Yoga for Skiers and Riders, 6 weeks of Iyengar or a month of hot Yoga. I did not practice every single day, but incorporated it into my overall training schedule. Again, looking to balance out the others activities I was doing at the time like soccer, snowboarding, softball, running, mountain biking, hiking and being an overall gym rat which included weight lifting, spinning, racquetball and rowing.
At the time I looked to Yoga to simply stretch and cross train, but I also liked how quiet the room was, how everyone just seemed to be in their own little zone and how it didn’t really matter if you were “good” or not it just mattered that you were there doing it. In fact, no one seemed to care about what anyone else in the room was doing. It was a complete judge free zone and for once I wasn’t competing. For once I felt like I didn’t have to be the best. Of course my ego wanted me to be, but the reality is I just wasn’t and that was OK.
This time the only person I was competing against was myself.
The first several years of my practice was very sporadic. It wasn’t until 2007 when my husband and I were traveling for a year in Central and South America that I decided to participate in a Yoga Teacher Training course. After that trip and training I knew I could never go back to a “real” job. Luckily, Yoga affords me the alternative lifestyle that I have always leaned towards. I have never really had a typical job. I used to work at a craft brewery in Vermont where the owner was bare foot most of the time (although in winter was forced to wear socks with his sandals).
While I now practice some form of Yoga on most days and view it as much more than just stretching I definitely still value it as a cross training tool.
Sure, I could have run a Marathon in 2011 without Yoga, but my joints, tendons and ligaments didn’t hate me and my body recovered faster with Yin Yoga, which I credit as my secret weapon. When I rode a Century bike ride last Summer (having only ridden a road bike 12 times in my life) it was Yoga to the rescue in relieving my neck, shoulders and back, again the key to finding ease in these other sports.
My purpose isn’t to convince you to cross over and conform to the Om chanting, trance dancing meditation life style, but if you want to feel stronger, perform better and recover faster I suggest you give it a chance. You may think yoga is not for you, but let’s put it this way – if you want your body to not feel like shit after putting it through hell…do Yoga, even if your current activity is sitting on a 20 hour bus ride or spending 12 hours in front of the computer.
The best part is all you need is your own body and the desire to feel good.
My Yoga journey has brought me teaching at Yoga retreats around the world and I now train others to become Yoga instructors. I turned 40 last year and while I am still young, active and travel as much as possible, I will continue to tap into this “fountain of youth” and endorse Yoga as the tool that helps me age gracefully with ease.
While attending her first Ashtanga series in Vermont Carri was fascinated by the way she felt not only during practice, but long afterwards which led her to practice a variety of Yoga styles.
In 2006 Carri and Chris sold their house in Vermont, most of their possessions, gave away a car and traveled in Central & South America for 1 year, hiking, biking, surfing, eating and drinking their way through this amazing and beautiful land. It was during this journey Carri decided to get certified to teach Yoga.
Her passion for Yoga and travel has led her around the world teaching in Peru, Italy, South Africa and working as a volunteer at Ibiza Yoga. She now leads her own Yoga Teacher Training courses with Drishti Yoga International in Mexico, India, Peru and Italy.
As if that was not enough, Carri was also honoured to be a 2012 Sponsored Athlete by the women’s clothing company Athleta!