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Wall

Recent studies show that one of the best ways to stay mentally fit and enjoy a long life is to exercise regularly.

Is a program of asana-based yoga enough to encourage optimum health? Well, that probably depends on whether a component of your practice is aerobic. I would say for the most part, yoga practice does not get an individual’s heart rate up, and for many people that isn’t the real purpose of yoga anyway.

I’ve always liked doing sports and exercising, but I admit that in my sexagenarian years, I’ve become rather more sedentary.

So… recently, I made a decision that, in the spirit of keeping my body and mind flexible, I would try developing a new skill: climbing.

My friend John has built a climbing wall on his covered verandah. It is beautiful, as well as challenging. In the above image, you can see all the colourful hand and foot holds that look like a puppy’s squeeze toys. One of the walls slopes in at about a 15 degree angle, which makes it even more difficult than a vertical climb. If you were game and more experienced than I, you could attempt the climb up and over the ceiling, too.

How did the Yogini go?

Because of the fact that I have absolutely no climbing technique, and I also found John’s coaching difficult to follow, I used an all too familiar approach. I threw myself at the wall; I grunted; I groaned. I was surprised to hear myself sounding like Serena Williams when she dives for a wicked return.

Was all my overexcitement helpful? I did get to the top of both walls but only because of raw intentionality.

After several go’s, my muscles gave out. My spirit was still wanting to attack the wall, but my flesh was pooped. When I looked at some photos that were taken of me, I could see how I looked like a coiled snake.

I’ve seen people come to yoga classes with the same sort of teeth-clenching determination. I’ve even been one of them. What is that drive? Is it crazy? Is it the stuff of personal bests? What ever happened to the idea of ‘effortless effort’?

Maybe I don’t need to know the answer to what makes us push ourselves beyond endurance at times.

I do know that this week I’ve been out in the Yoga Shed, which doubles as a home gym, doing plank poses, chaturangas, utkatasanas, as well as my version of P90X. More importantly, it’s been hugely fun!

And… I know that I and the wall are going to meet again soon.