MOUNTAIN PEOPLE: Thanks for agreeing to interview. Nancy, you’ve been hiking and doing yoga for a while now. When did you start doing yoga, and what was your motivation?
NANCY: In 2001 I was visiting my brother in Boulder Colorado and he asked me if I was interested in taking a hot yoga class. I said, "sure" and after taking two Bikram Yoga classes back-to-back I was hooked. At the time, my gym was offering Hot Power Yoga and I began taking class several times a week. I loved the heat, the detox and the blissful feeling post yoga. I almost couldn’t get enough of yoga. . . I absolutely felt the physical strength that I was gaining from these classes and the mental strength and clarity slowly seeped in over the years. In retrospect, rolling out my mat provided a haven for me to be with myself and help me figure out life's challenges like the separation and divorce that I was in the process of and how to handle the challenges of raising a teenage boy. . .At times, my yoga mat became the place I just lay myself down in child’s pose and cry. I’ve been teaching since 2004 but in 2011 I completed a 200-hour yoga certification course that provided me with greater depth and knowledge of the eight limbs of yoga and it became more integrated into my life. I see yoga as a lifestyle rather than an opportunity to roll out your mat and practice some poses.
MOUNTAIN PEOPLE: and hiking?
NANCY: I dabbled in hiking as a teenager and got more interested in it when I met my former husband back in the early 80’s. He was a hiker and backpacker and I was drawn to spending time in nature and physically challenging myself. When we started a family we camped and hiked in Franconia Notch and Acadia National Park. We even took our boys to the Lonesome Lake AMC hut to start preparing them for backpacking trips. Well, life doesn’t always go as planned . . . but my love for hiking and camping grew. I continued hiking and camping with my kids and some family friends, but in 2012 I joined the New England Over 40 Hiking Meetup group. At that time, my youngest son was heading off to college and I was going to have a lot more free time. I just naturally thought that hiking would be a great way to spend it. Joining a [hiking] meetup group seemed like the perfect solution to find other people like me that wanted to hike more.
MOUNTAIN PEOPLE: And now you've combined these two things in Peaks and Poses, where you take people on hikes, and during the hike the group practices yoga. Do you see hiking and yoga as complimenting each other, and if so, how?
NANCY: First, I see both of them as individual practices. Each one requires discipline and presence. I always practice my asanas after a day of hiking. It’s a great way to stretch my legs and shoulders too. My deeper yoga practice shows up during a hike in various ways. Sometimes, I prefer to be on my own even amongst my friends quieting my mind, taking in the scenery or just contemplating something going on in my life. The mountains and hiking offer the space to do that. I also feel very alive and connected to my body while hiking which I think I learned through yoga. Being present is always important in both yoga and hiking especially hiking and watching where you place your feet. . . who wants to fall into a river because you misplaced your foot?!
MOUNTAIN PEOPLE: With Peaks and Poses, do you find that you’re exposing more people to yoga than would normally try it, and do you find that you’re getting some yoga people more interested in hiking?
NANCY: I think I am exposing more people to hiking and the beauty of the mountains. Most women keep repeating trips with me because they have found a connection with nature and they want more of that and less of the life [of] “disconnection.” We have a lot of fun on my hikes and they meet other people too. . . then they start hiking together.
MOUNTAIN PEOPLE: What are the best mountains for doing yoga on?
NANCY: The first view point heading up Welch & Dickie, Mount Pemigewassett, a spot between Mizpah Hut and Mount Pierce, some of the ledges of Hedgehog Mountain, the dock on Lonesome Lake, and Sugarloaf.
MOUNTAIN PEOPLE: What are some of the impediments to doing yoga in the mountains?
NANCY: The biggest impediments to yoga on the mountain is the massive amounts of people and weather conditions. I try to be open and flexible to where we have our short practices. . . One year we did yoga in Lakes of the Clouds Hut as it was too windy to summit [Mount] Monroe. It was really cool as other people staying there joined in. I am finding that the practice of yoga is changing on my hikes and it's not just about doing a pose but staying present so you don't twist an ankle or fall in to a stream.
MOUNTAIN PEOPLE: What is your favorite yoga pose for hiking?
NANCY: I think my favorite pose is Reverse Warrior. My legs are strong from yoga and hiking and you get such a nice side body stretch and breathe deep into [the] lungs.
You can learn about Nancy's Peaks and Poses offerings here.
Photo credits: Peaks and Poses