Not your average yoga studio
No mats, walls, mirrors or instructors are need to practice the always evolving art of Walking Mountain Yoga ” just the outdoors.
Founded by Mick Dodge, a self-proclaimed nomad, Walking Mountain Yoga is always practiced outdoors and uses only natural objects like sticks, stones and trees. Dodge developed the proactive while living in the Olympic Mountains in Washington.
After meeting a handful of Truckee-Tahoe locals interested in the yoga, Dodge started a practice at a private residence on West River Street in Truckee. The area where the group meets is called an “earth gym.”
“Movement disciplines like Ti Chi have been locked up inside,” said Dodge, whose weathered face and thick beard are a testament to the years he’s spend outdoors. “We’re taking it back outside.”
Dodge was raised in Japan, the son of a marine, later became one himself, and was a competitive power lifter in the Scottish highland games.
After becoming injured Dodge “went off into the mountains” throwing away his shoes to learn from nature.
“I allowed the mountains to teach me,” Dodge said, adding that he learned the most in caves and under trees.
“I followed elk for days at a time and would sleep with them.”
Most importantly, Dodge learned how to walk correctly, which healed his aliments. “Our culture is losing its capacity to walk.”
When Dodge returned to civilization from the mountains he took it upon himself to teach the homeless how to walk and “people who weren’t using their bodies.”
Dodge believes everything you can do in a gym can be done outside and is perhaps more effective. He emphasizes bringing back a sense of play which, he says, most adults have lost.
Jacquie Chandler of Incline Village said she met Dodge some 15 years ago and has been practicing ever since.
“He’s like the Pied Piper,” Chandler said of Dodge. “He’s come back (from the mountains) carrying that message.”
“It’s the ultimate gym,” Chandler said of practicing outside. “Once you start practicing with sticks and stones you start thinking differently.”
Chandler, who performed with Dodge at this year’s Trails and Vistas said people in the community have shown interest. “They really see how simple and fun this is,” Chandler said. They also built a temporary round house structure at Meeks Bay and did a demonstration for the Boys and Girls Club in Kings Beach, which received a positive response.
Chandler has high expectations for the practice, she hopes local yoga studios will add Walking Mountain Yoga to their practice, host more educational outreach and sell the natural products in Walking Mountain to help fund its development.
As for rules, Dodge says there are very few, just as long as you move.
“There’s no wrong movement,” Dodge said. “The only wrong movement is none at all.”
As for what Walking Mountain will do when the snow comes?
Dodge says they will build huts made from salvaged wood and leather.
“There’s so much talk about what’s right and wrong it’s time to just walk.”