During the first week of January 2018 I hiked one of the trails in Red Rock Canyon with my newest friend, Colleen. Red Rock Canyon is on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and is spectacularly beautiful but, not the best place to do yoga asanas, at least not on the rocks.
I did attempt a few of the basic poses, mountain pose, downward dog, warrior one; but balance was difficult on such rugged terrain. Much to my amazement air was my priority as we climbed up and down the rocks, focusing on our steps. To say the least I found conversation difficult as we hiked, due to my need to breathe! I practice yoga and/or pilates daily, I thought I was in great shape! It wasn’t until we rested, and I had recovered my breath, that I was able to appreciate the vast and incredible beauty of this colorful canyon and enjoy being present, just present, for the morning. In that moment of rest, nothing else seemed important.
Mindfulness, it occurred to me, this is mindfulness. Truly, nothing is more important than being present in the moment and appreciating the experience. Could I have achieved mindfulness without the strenuous activity? I hope so, but, truth is that I exhausted my body climbing and when I found rest, I had a greater acceptance of and appreciation for that one thing that connected not just Colleen and me, but everyone, everywhere, prana, breathing! Prana is our life-force. I had to pay attention to my breath to climb the rocks, I focused on my life-force. When I found rest and gained control of my breathing, my mind found peace and became open to the beauty of the moment, the beauty of Red Rock Canyon and our experience there. It felt just like the end of strenuous asana class; shavasana on the rocks. Brava Red Rock Canyon!
So, if you’re a yogi traveling to Vegas, this is a magnificent, albeit unexpected, experience you should pursue. You don’t have to do a single asana to have a yogic experience, just focus on your breath and a moment of Samadhi (bliss) may follow. I like to think I’ll go back there alone, to attempt meditation on the rocks. I’ll let you know if, and when that happens.