Conscious Strokes – A mindful, yogic, vegan, kayaking blog
Aside from the obvious general fitness and low body mass index that help the physical aspects of kayak rolling, muscular control and flexibility are also essential to rolling. The flexibility of your spine and torso, the ability to control and use the strength of your abs, quads, lats and triceps all impacts your ability to move your body through the motions necessary to roll well.
We act as if we know what we are doing, yet we exist in a permanently changing environment. Rather than accepting this, we attempt to control things, and we resist the inevitable change. By spending time resisting we are missing the opportunity to enjoy the present.
I would posit, that rolling impacts at least three different mood affecting chemicals within the brain/mind (serotonin, oxytocin and estrogen) and so it should come as no surprise that I come off the water feeling refreshed, happy and cleansed, much like when I walk out of the yoga studio or get up after a meditation.
Just as my kayak rolling needs practice and training to grow my abilities, so too I need to train my body and mind to transition out of its current state of emotion processing. My meditation and yoga practices are creating the space within my thoughts to allow me to recognize the mental beating is about to commence and make a simple, conscious, acknowledgment of my flaws.
Much has been written about man’s eternal quest for reason, to discover the essence of what our purpose on this planet is. Being absent of a deity to dictate my destiny I find myself confused why we should, or if we actually have, a purpose. So instead let me flip this discussion around and approach it from an alternative more solvable perspective.
Yesterday I returned to the sweat shop, my weekly hot yoga class, an opportunity to immerse myself completely for an hour. The room kept at 105F, my body slick with running perspiration, drips falling noticeably from extended limps, onto my sodden towel. My body and mind in unison, occupied, completely, developing strength and flexibility.
I love paddling my skin-on-frame qajaq (kayak), I feel physically and mentally connected to the water when paddling it. I feel the skin move as the pressure of waves pass by. I feel the intimate connection of heel, thigh, and butt to the wooden skeleton. With each paddle stroke I feel the water gently moving the paddle, aligning the blade’s angle so as to ease the the waters disturbance, and leave it at peaceful rest.
My Lady and I spent the past weekend in Northern Minnesota. We were at a yoga retreat organized by our local studio. The location was beautiful. Nestled on the shore of Lower Whitefish Lake, replete with sandy beaches, beautiful sunsets and sumptuous accommodations. Never having attended a yoga retreat before, we felt a little lost at first, with no previous experience of the laid back, relaxed manner in which the weekend played out.
Why start another blog? My original blog was a deeply personal therapeutic outpouring of my mental journey recovering from the unexpected divorce from my starter wife. Whilst very cathartic, it became apparent that it was no longer serving me well to have that journey in public so I deleted it a decade ago. Since then I have maintained a kayak focused blog, more specifically one about Greenland style kayak rolling.