I am pretty sure that without yoga I would have lived a completely different life. I never would have; climbed as long as I have, established new climbing routes all over the world, broken speed records in Yosemite Valley, been sponsored by The North Face or picked up the nick name Heidi Almighty. My thoughts on this stem from the fact that I was fortunate enough to have found yoga and to have immersed myself into this truly amazing practice that can heal body, mind and spirit.
When I was only 19 years old, I was already plagued with horrible sciatica problems. Unable to sleep at night and hardly able to function during the days I sought out help from a local acupuncturist. After sticking what seemed like 100s of needles all over my body, she began to explain that if I really wanted to heal myself, I had to do just that “heal my Self”. She suggested that I begin the practice of yoga. With my other option being a life of pain I opted for the yoga. The next day I found a yoga book on my housemate’s bookshelf and began to practice on my own. Soon, I began studying with a local teacher. Within weeks I was doing yoga nearly every day, my sciatica problems were gone and, with a renewed and expanded passion for life, I set out into the world to explore this newfound freedom. I was back to truly living. Thus began my long love affair with yoga.
Now, 22 years later I am still a regular practitioner of yoga as well as a teacher and I can say with confidence that yoga has been a major influence in every aspect of my climbing and my life. Yoga gives so many positive gifts to the practitioner that I feel all athletes would benefit from at least a basic yoga practice in their lives. Through yoga one can find greater flexibility, strength, body awareness, discipline, and focus. Not to mention that it also creates a sense of inner peace and harmony, which is always useful when tackling a difficult climb, skiing a particularly challenging line, hiking up a strenuous trail or dealing with every day situations.