The heat was palpable as I drove across the Badlands of North Dakota. My poor body was screaming for movement after 4 hours of wiggling in the driver’s seat. Zooming at 80 MPH down the interstate, I had sat in half lotus on the right, and then on the left, and even found full lotus for a few miles, my legs tangled together in the seat, dangerously far from the brake or the gas. Time to get out of the car. Stretch. Pee. No more flying in full lotus without a safety net while driving.
I scanned the Rest Stop Area for the least amount of foot traffic and spied a perfect spot, overlooking the Badlands, next to a small picnic table. Breathing in and breathing out, I took in the eccentric landscape of precipices and outcroppings. The Badlands of North Dakota aren’t as stark and eerie as the South Dakota variety. A few scrubby pines and brackish ponds dotted the view, bringing welcome relief to the sedimentary rock in various states of erosion.
I love practicing yoga outside. Especially in a new place. I seem more awake to the smells and feeling of the air, which brings new awareness into my practice. My body was calling for standing poses. The Warriors-One, Two, and Three, Triangle, Pyramid, Tree. I ended with Wide Straddle Fold, my personal favorite now that my head rests on the earth. An inversion without the pomp and circumstance of headstand, so I stayed for a while and enjoyed the up-side-down view.
As I grounded my feet and lifted my heart back up to standing, I heard voices to the right of me from a picnic table. Two ladies with hair-dos, smoking cigarettes, were smiling at me with great curiosity. “That was some mighty fancy stretching”, said the one. The other hair-do was nodding up and down in complete agreement as smoke billowed above her teased curls.
“It’s yoga”, I offered simply.
“I always wondered what yoga was. It must be good for you.” the first hair-do pondered aloud.
“Especially driving from Wisconsin to Montana,” I replied. “It feels good to move and helps me stay more alert.”
We smile at each other and I continue back to my car, slightly embarrassed by their invasion of my privacy. I can see them shaking their heads, their cigarettes growing shorter as they contemplate my stretching and then quickly move on to their own lives and bodies and stories.
Back on the road again, I notice I feel much more alert and ready to make the big push west, unsure if it was the yoga or my interaction with the ladies that renewed my energy. I thought I was on this excursion to get away from it all, but maybe the best part of a solo road trip are the unexpected connections along the way….