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Letters to my students who were prepared for climbing Kilimanjaro Mountain-Letter 1

Tips to Mountain Climbers

Dear all,

It has been a pleasure interacting with most of you during your preparation for one of the life-changing experiences in your life: climbing Mount Kili.

A few weeks before your depart, I would like to summarize some of the things we shared and discussed, touching on various topics of interest like preparation of physical body, strengthening of the mental/emotional body, nutrition etc.

I have broken down these points in 5 emails, which I will be sending you one by one, in the following days.

I wish you success in this adventure and may this be a first step to a new discovery of yourself and a new path of adventures in your lives!

Reaching the top of a mountain is like reaching any other goal in our lives, whether it’s personal or professional, physical or spiritual.  As per the old Chinese martial arts, the secret of achieving any goal is to achieve internal harmony, Heart Minded focus or “Xin Yi” or inner intelligence.

When our heart minded focus has the will “Yi”, then this will generates enough energy “Qi”; and, as per the laws in physics, we need to convert this energy to power “Li”.

The journey has started from the moment we have decided to go out of our comfort zone and go for such a challenge.

As we have also discussed in our sessions with most of you, in order to achieve any goal, as per the yoga Sutra, “tapah-svadhyaya-isvara-pranidhanani kriya-yogah”, we need to ACT towards the goal, STUDY ourselves, our mistakes, the path, the obstacles, the opportunities, the surroundings, LET GO from clinging on the end result, and FOCUS on every step/action we do at the moment. You will reach your goal as per the “Xin Yi” you have within you.

Preperation is the second most essential step to win any race, competition, or achieve certain goal or position.

This preparation needs to be comprehensive and holistic to achieve any goal, and I am sure you have followed this strategy in every step of your career, personal development or life.

What kind of preparation do we need to reach the Kili Summit:

Besides the logistics things that need to be taken care or, (tickets, gear, visas, vaccination etc), we need to prepare our bodies (physical, physiological, emotional and mental bodies).

This first email will focus mainly on the physical body, which usually is considered by most the “most important part of the preparation”.  However, we can’t really separate any of these bodies from each other, as all parameters influence our performance.  For example, as some of you with whom I worked over the past weeks might recall, some days you managed to reach 20sec. in each of the breath component and other days the max. you have reached was 12sec. Have you noticed your mind and emotion during the time of both practices?

Anyway, let’s talk a bit on the physical aspect:

It’s 7-days hiking and mounting, walking uphill for 9 to 10 hours a day, so your STAMINA needs to be strong at a consistent pace; Very often, most of us, at the starting point for any project, we normally have huge amount of energy and we work very fast/hard, till the breaking point, when we have literally burnt ourselves.  Same here: I would recommend to start with moderate to slow pace of walking, doing your best to keep the pace/speed consistent instead of over exhausting yourself in the beginning, only to be overcome by fatigue later on.

· Strengthening of the legs’ muscles by strengthening the thighs, legs and ankles

· Our legs need to be strong enough to carry us for 10 hours a day;  As such:

· Till the date of your departure, you should be walking (at rapid pace) every day for at least 1 hour;

· You should be doing on a daily basis some exercises to strengthen your thigh muscles.  Such practices include Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I& II) during the Sun Salutation, Utthita Parsvakonasana I & II, Vrksasana (Tree Pose); Utkatasana (Chair Pose).  With most, we have repeatedly explored these postures and you have mastered them exceptionally.  Now, you need to keep repeating them till you depart for Tanzania;

· You should not forget to increase your knees’ flexibility, making sure they aligned properly; Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose); Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) are good examples of practices you can repeat on daily basis for your consistent preparation.

· Strengthening your back muscles and core to increase the endurance capacity

· Our spine needs to be flexible and strong enough to support the physical and mental pressure;

· Activities such as, swimming, practicing in the gym and yoga asanas such as Trikonasana (Triangle) to Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), Blank pose are good and important till the end of your preparation.

· Strengthening the capacity of the Cardiovascular system

· While hiking uphill against the gravity, walking for almost 10 hours a day, the effort we put on our heart to pump the required amount of blood to support our muscles is significantly higher.

· Running, using cardio machine in the gym with gradual increase to the elevation could be good preparation

· Climbing stairs gradually also is a good training

· Practicing yoga sequence such as (Surya Namaskara kha I & II,…) with an intelligent increase of intensity and speed under specific breathing technique can help strengthening the resilience of your cardio system

I will continue again tomorrow, with some additional ideas and suggestions.  In the next mail, I will focus on the importance of breathing especially as far as regulating our breathing system and our whole body is concerned, to be more resilient under tough and different air composition.

I wish you a great day ahead and strong practicing!.

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