The Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Chain boast some of Alaska’s fiercest winds. Port Heiden, nestled in the center of the peninsula, is lucky enough to experience the Bering Sea’s wrath. The winters are especially insane, with gusts over 100 mph (!!!) and massive storms that last for days.
I knew these facts before arrival, but had no idea how much the climate conditions would enhance my yoga practice.
As a yoga practitioner, I’ve come to appreciate balance postures for the awareness, discipline, and focus they demand. When I first began practicing regularly, even standing on one foot for longer than 20 seconds was incredibly challenging.
Accordingly, I hated every balancing pose. So much so that I’d invent excuses in my head to come out of such postures early, or just sit them out altogether.
In time, those balance asanas became my favorites. Through the help of a few invaluable instructors, I’d come to accept that the poses providing the hardest challenges were the ones offering the most gains.
Upon arriving in Port Heiden, I was (and still am) fascinated by the winds. Never seen, but strongly felt, the wind has its own moods and whims. Days without wind now feel foreign and empty.
As with balancing poses, walking and running in the high wind felt rough at first. It was agonizing and exhausting. My eyes stung, lips chapped, and muscles ached to expend more effort just to remain upright. But, I quickly realized that there must be much to gain through continued exposure outside my comfort zone.
On these initial walks and runs, periodic breaks were necessary – mostly to rest, especially to stretch.
It was during just such a break that I first tried balancing in the ripping winds…and a gust promptly threw me flat on my face. Luckily, no one was around to witness my shame. But that stumble and fall taught me to respect the winds around here and all they have to teach.
I’ve since fallen frequently, but am adamant that nothing is gained without struggle.
For through these struggles, I suspect that true balance is found.
“Harmony, balance, rhythm.
There you have it. That is what life is all about.“