Mt. Rubidoux – Riverside CA

My friend Sharon knows the truth about me. She knows that I will go hiking and that I have the ability to do a strenuous hike but she also knows that I don’t really LIKE hiking. I love getting to see the view from the top. I love the camaraderie of hiking with a group of friends and I also love what hiking does for my body. But for some reason it’s just not my “go to” form of exercise.

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I am first and foremost a yogi. I practice yoga for about an hour each morning at home. It helps me be more flexible, it gets my blood flowing and my brain active and it also helps me be in a positive mood. After my yoga practice I like to do something else that is complementary to a healthy/happy lifestyle. Sometimes I ride my bike or paddle board. Sometimes I swim or go to a Zumba class. Today I hiked Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside, CA.

I guess it’s not really fair to call what I did today “hiking.” That word brings forth images of climbing over rocks and roots, needing to use my hands to pull myself up higher and I certainly didn’t need to do that! The trail at Mt. Rubidoux is a gentle up hill walk. The 3 mile trail is wide, flat and paved. I was there at 8am and already there was a steady stream of people. I saw folks running, moms pushing strollers, groups of ladies visiting and even a guy walking his gorgeous Iguana!!!!!! That was a first for me!

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Mt. Rubidoux is just short of 1400 feet in altitude but from its peak you are awarded a 360 degree view of the surrounding neighborhoods, downtown Riverside and the mountains nearby. The terrain on the mountain is very different from what I am used to in the Pacific Northwest. Here it is very dry and brown. Big rocks poke out of the earth or stack on top of each other. Small scrubby bushes cling to every centimeter of earth in search of water.

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The thing that I loved the most about my walk today was how happy everyone was! Many people said hello or morning as we passed. One of the stroller moms gave me directions about how the trail worked. I gave and received exuberant high fives from several people running down from the summit and another person even stopped to help me pick trash out of the bushes! It was definitely a peaceful community feeling.

This is what exercise and being in nature does for us humans. It gives us a chance to remember that we all have a hard time walking up hill! That we are all on this planet together. That we are trying to be healthy and fit. That this is our community, our park and we should work together to keep it clean. And that it’s a good thing to cheer each other on!

I hope you are able to find a little peace in your life today.

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Pop Up Yoga in Ventura California

I’m lying on my back in Savasana. The sun is making glowing orbs on the back of my eyelids and warming my face. I can feel the bumpy ground beneath my body and the wind is tickling my toes. A mole is popping his head out of the ground. I can hear him nibbling on grass nearby. I’m surrounded by 40 happy souls and I feel peaceful, relaxed and grateful for Ventura Pop Up Yoga.

I found out about Pop Up Yoga by looking online. They host classes all over town in parks, at the marina and even at a winery! Pop Up Yoga is not connected to any particular studio. Multiple teachers share the instructor role and they offer a practice every day of the week. The coolest thing is that you pay for the class by donation! They believe that yoga should be available and accessible for everyone. So they just ask you to pay what you can afford. Isn’t that great?

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(Getting our stretch on!)

We visited Ventura, California this past weekend to dog-sit for some friends. We spent the weekend wandering main street, tasting beer, walking the pier, watching kite boarders sail across the water and we even paddled in the Harbor. But by far, my favorite part of the weekend was yoga at The Cross in Grant Park overlooking the city!

 

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I arrived early and found my spot on the uneven ground. Someone mentioned that they were trying to find a flat spot. And I thought, “Good luck with that. It’s uneven and bumpy. There are small smooth patches, some rough, some dry, some moist. Kind of like life! Is it ever totally smooth? We try to find balance between work, home life, vacation time, spouses, kids, commitments. This ground is a perfect metaphor. You can try to find a flat spot but it’s not likely to happen!

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(The view from my spot! It was a little hazy in the morning.)

Our Instructor today is Margeaux who has just opened a new studio called Yoga Casita in Santa Paula. As she leads us through the practice I can’t help but notice how tall she is! (A model maybe?) I’m guessing she is about 5’11” and looks very athletic – I bet she surfs! I know, I’m supposed to be focusing inward but I can’t it. This is my monkey mind at work. I also notice she’s very good at holding space for quiet. That’s something that I struggle with when I teach. I always want to fill the quiet time with talk – but not Margeaux. As we hold poses for five breaths she is quiet – allowing us to focus on ourselves.

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(Can you say Trikonasana?)

Most of all, what I loved about today is this: There we were – about forty of us, all different sizes, shapes, skin colors, religions and backgrounds and yet for this short moment – one hour of our day –  we were One. We moved as one, breathed as one and radiated peace and harmony out into the world from our hill top aerie. I had at least five people say hello to me and smile and say welcome! Yoga does that. It brings people together. To breathe, stretch, love each other, look inside and BE.

So here I am….having the ultimate California yoga experience. I am on a hill, overlooking beautiful Pierpont Bay and the white sandy beaches of Ventura, California. I feel welcomed. I feel happy. I feel Yoga. Welcome to California Dawn!

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