“Someone asked me what kind of yoga I practice,” Becki said recently, during a morning class. “Hatha yoga? Vinyasa yoga? I told them I practice Dubois yoga.”
She didn’t elaborate, but we know what this means. The farthest thing from competitive yoga. Healing yoga. Restorative yoga. Respect your body yoga.
“Any injuries today?” she asks.
I tell her that yesterday I hiked too far, too fast. “Someday you’ll stop telling me things like that,” she replies. If Becki can respect my body, why can’t I?
Becki has said that everyone in Dubois has very tight hamstrings, because we spend so much time hiking uphill. Her gentle “work-ins” are there to help us help our bodies recover from the hard physical work of enjoying our wilderness, whether we’ve spent time pitching tents or pitching hay to horses.
Before she gave birth to her first child and needed yoga to recover, Becki was the head of our local wilderness-adventure program for adolescents, after working as a counselor who took them on treks into wild places. Last year, she took a solo mountain-bike trip from Canada to Wyoming down the Continental Divide.
Our tai chi instructor, Matt, is the local plumber. He gladly tells us how he wracked up his body as a younger man working in construction, to the point where he could barely walk, and how tai chi slowly helped him to recover.
He’s giving classes, he says, to make sure he keeps doing it himself.
This isn’t the kind of dance-like tai chi you see in a city park. It’s Tai Chi-Chi Kung, deeply rooted in the martial arts. He translates many of the complex moves into self-defense maneuvers, but the motions he leads us through are not combative. They’re gentle, quiet, self-aware.
Becki helps us to recover from clambering over this rocky ground. Matt helps us to prepare.
“Hiking,” he interrupts himself to say. “You think: This foot first, now that foot. I’m over this foot now. Pretty hard to lose your balance.. I used to turn my ankle all the time. Do this enough, and you won’t.”
When the muscles get too tight to tolerate, I treat myself to a session with Reenie. Here’s the charming small cabin she uses for therapeutic massage, a setting that is therapy in itself.
That’s a joy of living in Dubois year-round. In high tourist season, you’re lucky to be able to get any of her time at all — and Reenie likes to give it abundantly, and with care.
When I ask her what she’s finding, Reenie always prefaces her answer by saying something like: “Well, I’m not sure I have enough knowledge to advise you about this.” Meanwhile she has found places I didn’t know I had, let alone that they were hurting, and made them better.
I’ve learned more about myself from these three people than from any of the fine doctors I saw back in New York — and feel much better for it. But then, they probably don’t know much about hiking up rocky mountain trails.
© Lois Wingerson, 2017
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