Loving life in Death Valley

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Daniel and I recently returned from an awesome Christmas-time trip to Death Valley National Park.

I highly recommend making a winter trek to the desert. It’s amazing! If you go, here are some recommendations:

It’s a six-hour trip from Fresno to Death Valley, so enjoy the journey. Take the time to appreciate Red Rock Canyon State Park and to stop by the quirky jerky shack in Olancha.

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Take a hike! We were wowed by Mosaic Canyon. I’m no geologist, but I’d choose to spend Christmas surrounded by rocks, instead of eating Chinese food and seeing movie, any year!

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Wander a desert ghost town. We visited Rhyolite, and checked out some weird desert art nearby.

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If you visit Scotty’s Castle (and we don’t really recommend you do) then be sure to also check out the Ubehebe Crater nearby. Amazing!

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People say Death Valley has great sunrises and sunsets. I glimpsed my favorite sunrise when I stepped out of our tent at the Texas Springs Campground.

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We visited Badwater Basin, the lowest spot in the country, on Christmas morning. We had the salt flats all to ourselves.

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Then visit one of the higher spots in Death Valley – Dante’s View – for a majestic sight. Or, meditate there.

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Play a round in the Devil’s Golf Course. Or, meditate there.

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Death Valley is huge, so you’ll spend a lot of time in the car. Don’t hesitate to pull over (safely, of course) and get a good picture.

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But don’t spend all your time in the car. Sip some mate, and make plans.

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If you have a couple of days in Death Valley, check out the Amargosa Opera House. If you’re lucky, the receptionist at the decrepit hotel nearby will give you the keys to the opera house, so you can check out the theater’s murals on your own.

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Savor the local flavor! We sipped cream soda from Indian Wells Brewing Company while we ate peanut butter and prickly pear jam sandwiches.

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On the drive back, appreciate California’s splendor and diversity. You can drive through the desert, while gazing into the snow-covered Sierras.

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Do what you love, every single day

A Monday morning reminder to do what you love and love what you do – every single day.

Even if it means doing yoga with a rockstar yoga teacher on Superbowl Sunday, and chanting OM instead of cheering on a football team.

Or eating the most special ice cream (pictured: formerly, Ancho Chocolate and Miso Pear ice cream from Humphry Slocomb) on a regular Sunday night.

Happy Monday!

Yoga videos to rock your world

Because I am one myself, I have a good sense of what climbers want to get out of a yoga class: Shoulder-opening, hip-opening, and maybe some fun balances, to take advantage of that great core and arm strength.

I have a solid repertoire of these types of stretches and poses, and I incorporate them into the Yoga for Climbers class I teach at MetalMark Climbing & Fitness. But I was thrilled to gain inspiration from Jason Crandell’s 30-minute “Stong Shoulder, Hip and Groin Flow” class on the awesome Website, YogaGlo.com. (I’ve described it to friends as Hulu.com for yogis.)

Crandell’s class – which you can stream through the site, using their 15-day free trial membership – methodically worked deeper and deeper into the shoulders, hips and groin. The sequence’s flow was calm, allowing screaming muscles to relax and surrender.

I adapted a bunch of his sequences, and built them into a recent one-hour class. At the end of the class, one student said she felt like she had been “floating.”

If you are a yoga instructor looking for inspiration, definitely check out YogaGlo – some great teachers are sharing their wisdom there! And if you are a yoga student who can’t make it to your daily class, this is a great opportunity to practice at home, with some very special teachers.

And no matter what your level of yoga, you should definitely check out this going-viral video, Sh*t Yogis Say. Holla, from my mala!

Why Yoga for Rock Climbers?

Find your core. Trust yourself. Focus. Reach for it!

You are equally likely to hear these words of encouragement in the yoga class I teach at MetalMark Climbing & Fitness – or you could hear them in the bouldering area of the climbing gym.

That’s because – at least in my experience – yoga and rock climbing have so much in common.

I was a devoted yogi for almost a decade before I started climbing. When I began climbing at a gym in Fresno, many movements and techniques came naturally to me – thanks to yoga.

But as my love for climbing has developed, I haven’t stopped practicing yoga. In fact, I find that the yoga is more important than ever – to keep my muscles loose and relaxed, and to keep me mentally and emotionally cool.

Below are five poses that will make climbers love yoga

1. Lengthen your right arm away from your body, and turn your hand so your palm is facing the ceiling. Now use your left hand to bend your fingers back, as if your finger nails were moving toward your wrist. Do you feel pain? Yoga poses can loosen that tightness in your forearm

2. Clasp your hands behind your back. Lift up your heart and chest, and then try to reach the clasped hands toward the sky. Do you feel tightness across your shoulders? As you’re building muscle in your arms and shoulders, it feels great to loosen up those areas, too

3. Lie on your back, and extend both legs. Then pull the right knee in toward your chest, and clasp your hands around the shin. Relax your shoulders! Then use the left hand to guide the right knee toward the left side, into a gentle twist. Extend the right arm out to the side. Bonus points if your spine goes crack-crack-crack. This feels good to just about anybody

4. You’ve spent all evening climbing up walls. Now, try legs-up-the-wall pose: Scoot your bum to a wall, extend your legs up the wall, and relax your back onto the ground. Your body should be in the shape of an “L.” Breathe, and possibly fall asleep. This pose also feels great after a long car ride

5. Take a comfortable seated position – maybe on a block or blanket, and maybe with your back against a wall. Close your eyes, and begin to breathe. Try counting your` breath, to prevent your mind from straying too far from the moment. Know that blissful sensation when you’re climbing, and every ounce of your energy is focused on your hands, your feet, and where you’re moving to next? You can achieve that same sensation, just by sitting quietly.

 

Want to learn more? If you live in Fresno, stop by MetalMark at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday mornings for my Vinyasa-style yoga class, tailored toward the needs of rock climbers!