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Yoga outdoors

Article Published: Sep. 9, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Yoga outdoors

Yoga hiking takes participants out of the classroom and onto the trail, including those off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Quiet breezes and the crisp scent of leaves.

It's just part of the appeal of a new trend that's hitting High Country's healthy: Yoga Hiking, and Cheryl Ramsey is leading the charge.

Starting in May, the yoga instructor has hiked, skipped and meditated the High Country conscience into a unique experience you can't get in a studio, and as the leaves start to change and the weather cools, it's only going to get better.

"Outside is a little big unsteady, so ... there are times when the ground is not completely even, so you really have to get grounded in your feet," she said. "You really have to trust your core and yourself to do the balancing."

Think a core workout with an emphasis on flexibility. It's not just about your body, however. It's also about the feeling you get just being outside.

"The energy of the trees and the energy that surrounds the mountains allows you to tap into yourself and get more grounded and more centered," she said. "Your vision is just incredible because you're looking out at open space and the mountains. It's just more of a spiritualness, a high."

And, as the leaves turn orange and gold, expect it to intensify.

"It's a lot cooler now, and it's going to be a lot more comfortable to be out there," she said.

Ramsey, who has been teaching more than a year at places like Fusion Yoga in Banner Elk and the YMCA, has felt the effects herself. An ad for yoga hiking in San Francisco inspired Ramsey, already a yoga veteran, to take her art to the next level. It's not just how she stays in shape. It's how she deals with her stress.

"When things get a little bit stressful, you just remember, you just remind yourself to start breathing," she said. "You get yourself calmed back down and make yourself centered to make your job more complete ... calmed down and relaxed."

And it's not as complicated as you think. After all, the most important aspect of the art to Ramsey? Breathing. And she has some easy advice you can use in your own backyard to get a yoga cool down the next time you're stressed.

"Take your shoes off and go outside and stand in the grass or on the ground," she said. "Get real firm with your feet on the ground and stand straight. Tuck your tail bone in and start breathing. Inhale to the count of three. Exhale to the count of four with your eyes closed. Just feel yourself getting into the earth ... as you get more and more relaxed, you'll notice your breathing gets calmer."

Ramsey's yoga classes take students on treks on the Flat Rock trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Expect to provide your own transportation.

"It's going to be beautiful," she said.

Classes are Saturdays and are available to small groups, as well as individuals. For more information, contact Appalachian Hiking Yoga at (828) 719-7707 or e-mail Ramsey at (

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