5 Reasons a Chiropractor Recommends Yoga for Hunters br>
It took me 16 days to take a dall sheep in Alaska last year. If it wasn’t for my yoga practice I don’t think I could have stayed mentally determined or returned home injury free. Sixteen days is a lot of days of sleeping on the hard ground and climbing tall mountains. There is really no perfect training for the rigors of sheep hunting because there is no way to anticipate which elements you might encounter. You just have to step in and hope you’ve got what it takes.
As a chiropractor, I regularly recommend yoga to patients. I appreciate how it offers core engagement, strength building, flexibility and balance as a therapeutic activity to stabilize the spine. As a yoga teacher, I can bring together the physical components and other elements like breathing and a mind body connection. These combined benefits of yoga undoubtedly prepared me for pursuing sheep day after day.
My least favorite element of a sheep hunt is shale. We crossed so much of it in 16 days. The final day of the hunt we hit the shale early and after about 200 yards of uncertain footing I sat down and cried. I was tired of shale. I had hit my physical and emotional wall. I was physically tired and my spirit feared failing my team and going home empty handed. I knew I could physically do it but I wasn’t sure I wanted to anymore. I had to access even more trust and determination and find meaning in it again. A yoga practice has a way of making you take a deep breathe, regroup, and start again with your intention in mind. After an encouraging word from my guide and a few deep breaths I found myself traversing rocks and wiping away tears and snot. Within 10 minutes my guide was on a group of legal rams and we were in hot pursuit.
The rams were one ridge over, through the alders, across the river and 3 hours uphill. My yoga practice prepared me for this final push in ways I could not have anticipated. The alder patches themselves are like a yoga class. You twist around branches, duck under them, fall down between and over limbs all in the same square footage as a yoga mat. It probably looks like a sun salute, down dog and a lunge with a twist.
Not all hunts include a river crossing but mine did. I stripped down to my skivvies, wore my guides size 12 river sandals and crossed 30 feet of waist high rushing glacier water. Every step took complete concentration. My energy was focused on my guide on the other side. I remember holding my core tightly and fighting the current as it tried to push me down river. The balance poses I practiced in yoga surely kept me and my pack from being washed away.
The next 3 hours were straight uphill. Every down dog pose had prepared my calves to stretch and push me onward. When the time finally came to set up for a shot I got rattled. My guide looked at me and simply said “breathe”. She was speaking yoga to me. I slowed my breath, immediately relaxed and collected my wits. We had a long and successful stock and I got an amazing sheep. No hunt ends there. We had a few more hours of gutting and caping and a long hike back to camp and another river crossing with a full pack. Descending the mountain I caught my foot on a rock and was jerked into the downhill splits. That was when I knew for certain that my yoga practice was keeping me flexible. You might be surprised how a yoga practice improves your hunting. Not only will it help you prevent injuries but it will give you a keen appreciation for the entire experience. Consider these five benefits and add yoga to enhance your time in the field.