Various hiking trails in Boulder, 720-243-1376, yogiwalks.com, rajseymour.com
Instructor: Raj Seymour, of Boulder, has been teaching yoga for 51/2 years. He’s been teaching Acroyoga for two years, and is trained in yoga-slacklining.
He also teaches a sports conditioning class at One Boulder Fitness, and he and his wife regularly perform and teach Acroyoga classes and run slacklining workshops. He also leads yoga teacher trainings at CorePower in Boulder.
Seymour also works for Open Space and Mountain Parks in the community education and outreach department, and he used to lead hikes for kids.
What is the workout? A combination of yoga and hiking around Chautauqua Park in small groups. Not like you’ll be walking up the trails in crow pose or lunging the whole way. The class infuses aspects of yoga and meditation into a hike of 2 miles on uneven terrain with an elevation gain between 500 and 1,000 feet.
“It was a perfect fit for me being a yoga teacher and a naturalist,” Seymour says.
We started with light yoga postures under the trees, then followed a 10-minute open-eyed, silent walking meditation. We hiked for about 45 minutes to an hour, with a break at the top of the overlook for a five-minute silent meditation. Class ended in the grassy park with a 30- to 45-minute yoga practice. We focused on the hamstrings, hip flexors and quads, which are the primary muscles used in hiking.
Yoga Hikes started last month as an extension of Boulder Walking Tours, which offers group tours of Pearl Street and other areas of town.
“It’s not a fragmented, forced combination of two activities together,” Seymour explains. “It’s an integration of two mind-centering, peaceful, contemplative practices. Yoga and hiking can bring people to similar states of mind, which is the goal: the calming of the ‘monkey mind,’ the ceasing of the fluctuations of the mind.”
What’s different? Yoga after a vigorous hike feels different; the body and mind are settled, peaceful and focused. For me yoga outside (especially in the shade with the perfect breeze that we had) is dramatically more satisfying and nurturing. Plus, the grass feels better on your knees than a hardwood floor.
Unlike just hiking the trails alone, Seymour was a fun guide, offering tidbits about the region and safety tips. I liked not having to think about where to go or what to do. The places he chose to pause and meditate were perfect. Everything about this class was strategic and carefully created with obvious intention.
Cost: Only $10 per hike. Worth twice that.
Where? Locations vary. We walked on the McClintock Trail to Enchanted Mesa.
Level: All levels. Bring a friend or out-of-town visitor — but make sure you’re ready for the altitude change. It’s not an extreme hike, as far as Boulder goes, but it’s definitely uphill for about a half an hour.
The class can make yoga more accessible to visitors and hikers, who might not otherwise want to try a yoga class, Seymour says.
“I make it accessible to people who have never done yoga, giving them feedback for why we’re doing the poses, and speaking about the breathwork and meditation — yes, coming from a yogic background, but making it accessible to anybody,” Seymour says.
When: Check website calendar. Because the class is new, times and locations will be changing.
What to prepare: Bring a small backpack or sling bag packed with a towel (instead of a yoga mat) and water. Wear sunscreen, sturdy shoes, comfortable clothes you can do yoga in, sunglasses and maybe a hat. We did yoga on the grass, and I could have done without the towel.
Muscles worked: Emphasis on legs (obviously), and there is cardio. We did a little bit of plank and arm work in the yoga part of class, but the legs really get it.
What I loved: This is my kind of hike. Intentional, fun, challenging enough to make your body feel good, yet relaxed enough to make it meditative. It was a good mixture of social and intimate. Seymour is a cheerful, personable teacher who is a great choice to lead these kinds of hikes. This hike is already a highlight of my summer 2013. Couldn’t recommend it more — to truly everyone who can handle the altitude.
What I didn’t like: Parking around Chautauqua at noon is just plain stupid. At least we went on one of the lesser-traveled trails. The crowds up there in the summer are ridiculous. Come way early and brace for a parking disaster.
How I felt after the class: Exactly how I wanted to feel and how I always want to feel: balanced, peaceful, enthusiastic, joyful and connected. Plus, my glutes thanked me the next morning with a bit of soreness.
— Reported by Aimee Heckel.
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