Over the past four months I have been fortunate enough to complete two epic multi-day hikes. The first was the Tour du Mont Blanc, a 170km circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc massive that traverses the Alps of France, Switzerland and Italy. In a close-knit team of two, Chris and I carried everything with us, from tents, to cooking pots, espresso cups, wooly jumpers, swimsuits, red wine and cheese. We wild camped (illegally so in Italy - don’t tell!) all nights but one, and got an immensely privileged insight into Alpine communities, culinary delights and livelihood. The second hike spanned all of October during which I joined my brothers, sister-in-law, and aunt for a journey across the eastern corner of the Nepalese Himalayas. We took the approach trial to Makalu Peak, the 5th highest mountain in the world (soaring above 8400m), and reached 5300m to see Makalu base camp, before descending to warmer and more oxygenated mountains. We had an immensely over-qualified and talented team of Nepalese porters, sherpas and cooks. In both instances I was out of connectivity throughout and luxuriated in a feeling of freedom, of the heady awareness of how time takes on an alternate beat without app notifications. I read avidly in the evenings and thought a lot. I thought in particular about walking.
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A recent special issue of the National Geographic, titled Gender Revolution, makes a fascinating study of how youths around the world are increasingly pushing the boundaries of gender and sexuality to mould a sense of self that is more fluid and non-binary. This shift can only happen in the context of generalised growing social acceptance and awareness of the limits stained male/female, girl/boy binaries. A spin off is a progression towards gender equality. Of course, some societies are better at accepting these changes than others.
"The high value put on every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy”
These wise and contemporarily relevant words are from Herman Hesse’s 1905 essay titled, “On Little Joys”. The German-born Swiss luminary is widely know for his novels Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. A less widely circulated treasure is My Belief: Essays on Life and Art. Hesse laments how the “aggressive haste” of his time (gosh, what would he say about our time?) has eroded our ability to enjoy leisure. This does not imply that - in the straightforward sense - there is no time for leisure, but rather, his point is more subtle.
There is this hashtag that has gained currency on Instagram: #yogaeverydanmday. I would like to argue that yoga every day is not only unnecessary but bad for you - especially so for women.The same Vedic texts that the modern practice of Hatha yoga (yoga of postures and breathing techniques) are derived from, are quite clear in their advocacy that a woman's cycle is both powerful and fragile. This is a time when you are 'full mooning'. There is incredible energy and heat in the body (the start of creation of life) at this time. In order for this process of creation and then expulsion to happen effectively, a lot of energy needs to be drawn and then coagulated in the pelvic region and lower spine.
It was the opening night of the year for Brookdale and the start of the Detox yoga retreat. As the yoga instructor for the week, I was fortunate enough to be staying on site. I had planned two classes daily, each on a different and focused theme to best achieve effective detoxification and rejuvenation. I was excited.