Finding Home on the West Coast Trail | Yoga in True Nature

Welcome to the second post from the yoga project True Nature Tribe. If you’re new here, head back and check out the first post: Introducing the True Nature Tribe.

Before we get to the interviews with some amazing yogis we figured we would give a little background on us. So here goes…


My yoga journey started with a physical need. As my posture hunched, shoulders climbed towards my ears, and back problems put me out of commission for days at a time, yoga showed me that physical pain is not necessarily a requirement of life. I can actually feel good. And I definitely notice when I miss a day. I became aware the physical impacts of stress and learned ways to deal with it. After going to yoga long enough, I stopped noticing the cues about body alignment and started hearing those ideas about listening to my body and my breath, without judgment. I started developing awareness of my thoughts and emotions as well as ways to clear my mind. Eventually, I started to listen to some of those crazy yoga ideas like energy and Heart Center and finding True Nature. A practice that I started to better myself began to teach me how to love myself.


It was back to basics: breathe, walk, play, love, forgive, and dream. It was all the things I learned as a child: be myself, love myself, and love others. Once I started to slow down and listen to how I was feeling, it became clear I needed to take time to be outside. Spending time in nature has always been important to both Marc and I. We met because of our shared love of the outdoors. As our lives became about long workdays we found it harder to find the time to get out in nature. We needed to find the time to breathe, to listen, and to watch the river carve the landscape.

finding home on the west coast trail

Journal Entry 6/27/2008 – West Coast Trail Vancouver Island

If it weren’t for writing every day, I wouldn’t know what the date was… I love that about backpacking, being away from where time matters. Being somewhere that it absolutely doesn’t. Today was magnificent. The trail, while challenging, was lovely. The day was beautiful blue with warm soothing sunshine. We walked on the beach, on the trail, on ladders, suspension bridges, through mud. We rode cable cars. We did yoga. I love that on this trip I’ve been writing everyday and doing yoga everyday. My body would be a disaster otherwise. Stiff and sore, more than it is already. My mind too… I love the meditation & relaxation. Focus on nothing but the poses. The world is amazing and I cannot believe I take so much for granted or ignore so much of the greatness. To choose TV over stretching and yoga. To talk on my phone rather than meditate. Too much of my life is ruled by others when I should be in charge, follow my heart, and find my journey.

Hiking the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island was probably when I first started paying attention to the connection between yoga and nature. It was a decision made based on necessity. Since we were hiking many miles everyday with heavy packs, I knew I would need to stretch afterwards. What I didn’t know is that practicing yoga on the rocks overlooking the vast Pacific would become one of my fondest memories of the trip. Even now, I remember searching for the perfect spot to practice. I would look for somewhere with just the right amount of comfort. I liked having just enough space accompanied by a little challenge, something like being up on a perch where balancing was made more exciting by the height. Sometimes that meant I was on a large downed tree trunk or exposed rock cropping.

Practicing yoga after hiking all day also became my chance to be alone, to think, and often to journal. Reading back through my own words from that trip and other outdoor adventures is enlightening. I’ve been racking my brain for a way to describe why I love nature, why I love yoga, and why we’re doing this project. As you can see, I have even been interviewing other people to see if they can explain it for me. The best I can do is share my experiences, much like I am asking others to do.

Like many rewards in the outdoors, those of the West Coast Trail were hard earned. Sometimes we were on the beach hiking through the sand, over tide-pools, or scrambling on rocks and boulders. When the tide was too high to be on the beach, we hiked along the cliff-side in the rainforest where the muddy trails required use of boardwalks, ladders, and cable cars in order to negotiate the rugged terrain. At the end of the day, we would remove our shoes and allow our feet to be massaged by the sand as we were rewarded with our choice of breath-taking camp spots. Marc would always orient our tent so that we had an ocean view. One night he positioned us between the ocean and a waterfall that cascaded onto the beach. We saw whales every day; often I noticed them when I was practicing yoga on a rock or log. We gathered driftwood, which was plentiful, and built campfires around which we shared hopes, dreams, and stories with our companions. We laughed and appreciated our soreness, pleased to be tired at the end of a long day. Sometimes we just sat and stared off at the endless horizon. We daydreamed about the future and sorted through life’s challenges while enjoying the beach and exploring the forest.

Journal Entry 6/28/2008 – West Coast Trail Vancouver Island

The waves are a mere few feet from my toes as I lie down to sleep. High tide almost invaded camp… but we survived. Last night out here, back to the “real world” next. No more campfires or rain forests for awhile… I face planted in the mud of the swamp today. I am ready to move on and yet not ready to leave. I hope I sort out all of my thoughts over the next couple months of the summer.

 Later that same summer I spent some time on Mount Rainier. Despite a journal entry that sounded fairly committed to summiting the mountain, I have yet to make it to the top even though I’ve been on the mountain a half dozen times. I don’t climb mountains to summit them. While that’s often a goal or a result, it’s actually something less tangible. As you’ll see in my words from 2008, which read almost like a prayer, I climb for the glimpses of happiness and understanding that I experience while on a mountain. And it’s those experiences that continue to bring me home.

Journal Entry 7/6/2008 – Mount Rainier

I want to feel the intense joy and happiness that overcame me while alone on the mountain. That’s love. That’s holiness. Please let me find my way back.

Thanks for tuning in! Be sure to visit our website for more information on what we are doing with the True Nature Tribe Yoga project. You’ll see glimpses of the stories ahead and well as ways to get involved. We would be honored if you would support our project in whatever way you are able.

We’ve created a Postcard Pack that is available for purchase. 100% of the profits will be donated to land conservation. Please consider supporting our project and our dream to use our photography to make a difference.

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