This May, I had the honor of being a guest teacher at Rancho La Puerta in Tacate, Mexico.  If you haven’t been or even heard of this place, definitely add this to your list of places to go!
I was able to bring a guest with me, so I asked my mom.  We started each day watching the sun rise while hiking up different mountain trails. Some of the hikes we climbed together (she’d be quite angry if I wrote how old she is, but let’s just say she was awe-inspiring, climbing up these steep, boulder filled trails!!) and other, steeper hikes I trekked with different groups. As much as I loved talking with people from around the world who frequent the “Ranch” (as it is referred to as), some of my fondest moments were hiking solo.
I want to share that I didn’t go on my first hike until I was 22 years old. I grew up on the west coast of Florida and my parents weren’t the outdoorsy-type.  Not until I was living in Japan did I experience the love of climbing mountains. It is a healthy, physical exercise that creates wonderful memories. Spiritual memories. It provides me the much coveted opportunity to slow down and disconnect. And given the chance, hiking teaches us essential truths about life.
*Quiet is the most beautiful sound. I love the stillness and calm of the trail. It reminds me how much I enjoy and need hearing no noise at all. Only the sound of my shoes meeting the ground and my breath.
*Life is about choices. Uphill trails provide two choices: reach the top or turn around. Reaching the top entails the determination to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The first few days I was getting pretty winded (south Florida sea level doesn’t prepare you too well for mountain hiking!) Just like when life gets tough, I try to remember to place one foot in front of the other and just keep going.
*Yoga and meditation help with hiking. While hiking through rough boulder strewn trails, each step needs to be clearly chosen. I focused where my next foot was going to land.  Heading down the mountain, my consistent yoga and meditation practice afforded me to develop the balance required not to fall on my face! All those balancing poses help develop the strength in my ankles, core and ligaments to resist injury. Once I was in the groove, I often felt as if I was gliding down the trail. At one point, the guide caught me looking down missing some of the most magnificent views. “Stop and look to your right,” he advised. While it’s important to move with precision, don’t forget to look at the beauty around you.
*Age is only a number.  I’ve seen hikers of all ages. My mom, well into her 70’s (I feel her cringe as she reads this as she doesn’t like people to know her “real” age) simply exemplifies the number of years she has been alive. How fortunate am I to have a role model who decided to care for her body.  Age definitely does not limit her potential!
*Reaching the top is motivating. Hiking to the top of a mountain (no matter how long or steep) is a pretty impressive physical, mental, and emotional achievement. It reminds me of how strong my body is; my legs, my endurance and the sound of my (often labored) breath is a humbling reminder that I can accomplish important things with my life if I put in the work.