Matt Morris grew up in the Chihuahuan Desert, where the landscape inspired a love for hiking and trail running. Now a yoga teacher, he enjoys leading students through both challenging and restorative practices that explore the mind-body connection, breath awareness and the extension of yogic principles from the mat and into the world. Having struggled with a debilitating disease for many years, Matt credits yoga, trail running, and time in the Franklin Mountains for his recovery.

Matt Morris, Xochitl Rodriguez and Jay Kleberg have spent a lot of time in the rugged beauty of the Franklin Mountains. The mountains have nurtured them and healed them. For all three, it is a place for recreation and inspiration. Find out why in this month’s podcast.

Pro Tip: Hiking Tips

Listen in as Matt Morris shares what you need to know before you head out on a hike.

Pro Tip: Trail Running Tips

Listen in as Xochitl Rodriguez and Matt Morris share the tips you need for your next trail run.

Q&A with Matt Morris

How have your experiences in nature inspired you throughout your life?

Trail running, like life, brings many challenges. Those challenges are both physical and mental. Whether going up or down, through wind, rain, snow or sun, all of these conditions affect how you traverse through life. Sometimes you have to forge ahead, and sometimes you have to stop right where you are and enjoy your journey.

How have these experiences improved your health?

For years I suffered from Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive tract. The diagnosis changed my life. Since that time, I have learned that nature soothes, it heals, and it can restore. I was kind of catapulted into trail running. When the disease was diagnosed, I refused to listen to what the doctors were telling me. They wanted surgery. I was determined to find other ways to deal and cope, so I started hitting the trails, exploring the mountains and connecting with nature. That provided a lot of mental healing, and then physical healing as well. I have no trace of the disease anymore. I took up yoga seven years after I was diagnosed and quickly became addicted, practicing it every day. I’ve done a lot of research and have explored all aspects of yoga meditation and breathing practices. All of this has helped me connect to the mountains even more.

Why have you partnered with TPWF in the We Will Not Be Tamed campaign?

To me, We Will Not Be Tamed has a warrior feeling to it. We’re going to stand up for something as a lighthouse and act as a beacon for conservation. I, too, choose to act as a beacon, shining a light on everything our parks and nature have to offer.

Why should Texans care about conserving Texas’ lands, waters and wildlife?

I think we need something to leave for those generations that will come after us. It is our duty to leave a clean environment that is essential for healthy living, for both humans and wildlife.

Can you share a recent outdoor experience that was meaningful to you and explain why?

Just recently, we partnered with the city of El Paso and Franklin Mountains State Park and created a yoga in the park event. We had more than 100 people show up! It was a great experience and my hope is that it opened their eyes to the beauty our parks offer us every day.