Best Yoga Poses for Hikers

Hik­ing is one of those spe­cial out­door pur­suits that can be enjoyed at any age and fit­ness lev­el. Yoga com­pli­ments a hik­er’s con­di­tion­ing rou­tine to main­tain strength, sta­bil­i­ty, mobil­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty. The length­en­ing and strength­en­ing of mus­cles and con­nec­tive tis­sues allow hik­ers to main­tain form, pos­ture and appro­pri­ate breath-work on and off the trail. Also, hik­ers may not real­ize how much bal­ance is involved with hik­ing or scram­bling up and down the moun­tain. These pos­es chal­lenge hik­ers in var­i­ous ways from increas­ing bal­ance chal­lenges to find­ing places that have nev­er been length­ened before.

Chair Pose
Hik­ers need all around strength, but most impor­tant­ly in the legs and need scapu­lar sta­bil­i­ty to main­tain good pos­ture while car­ry­ing packs. This chal­leng­ing pose does all the above from increas­ing upper and low­er body strength and sta­bil­i­ty while brac­ing the core muscles.

To get into the pose, place feet togeth­er. Lift the arms over­head and sit the hips back, like you are about to sit into a chair. Draw inner thighs togeth­er and “push up” into grav­i­ty to remain light and active into the pose. Hold for 30 seconds.

Tree Pose
Good bal­ance is much need­ed, espe­cial­ly on slen­der trails that are close the edge. This pose chal­lenges bal­ance in var­i­ous ways, and assists hik­ers to use oth­er sens­es when on the trail.

To get into the pose, grip one foot into the floor and bend your oppo­site knee. Place that foot either above or below the knee joint, either onto the calf or inner thigh. Slow­ly, lift one or two arms over­head to fur­ther increase the bal­ance chal­lenge. To use the inner ear sys­tem, and fur­ther chal­lenge the bal­ance, close one or two eyes. Keep breath­ing and hold for 30 — 60 sec­onds. Repeat on oppo­site leg.

Cres­cent Lunge
Hik­ers, espe­cial­ly those who scram­ble, need ade­quate strength and bal­ance into the legs and core. Bal­ance is also required when hik­ers are star­ring at stun­ning scenes instead of their next foot place­ment. This pose repli­cates a sim­i­lar pat­tern to a hik­er’s gait as the front foot is plant­ed onto the ground and the behind leg bal­ances onto the ball of the foot.
To get into the pose, start with feet togeth­er and step one foot behind with enough length between the legs. Sink into the front leg to where the knee is over the front ankle and the behind leg can length­en. Reach the arms over­head and keep breath­ing. To chal­lenge the bal­ance and increase shoul­der mobil­i­ty, add move­ment by low­er­ing the hands to the side and reach­ing them over­head. Sim­i­lar to flap­ping wings. Hold for 30–60 sec­onds and com­plete on each leg.

Down­dog is an all-around good pose to help every­thing. Hik­ers and back­pack­ers who car­ry heavy loads com­press the upper and low­er back while mov­ing up or down the ter­rain. The packs may also place the spine out of align­ment dur­ing move­ment, which may also affect tweaks and strains in the low­er extrem­i­ties. This pose length­ens the pos­te­ri­or chain of the legs and low back, and length­ens com­pressed chests from the pack straps.

To get into the pose, start onto all fours. Place your hands a cou­ple inch­es in front of the shoul­ders and curl your back toes under­neath. Slow­ly, lift the hips upward as you simul­ta­ne­ous­ly low­er the heels to the ground. Roll the shoul­ders away from the ears and keep the breath flu­id. Hold for 30- 60 seconds.

Hero Pose with Toes Curled Underneath
The not-so-com­fort­able hero pose, with toes curled under­neath, is ben­e­fi­cial to length­en the mus­cles and plan­tar fas­cia of the feet. In hik­ing, every­thing starts with a foot step. There­fore, unhealthy feet may affect and cause knee, hip and low­er back pain. Not to wor­ry, the pose eas­es with each try, and allows feet to remain healthy and happy.

To get into the pose, sit on your shins and curl the back toes under­neath. Once you are in posi­tion, slow­ly low­er your glutes to sit on your heels and low­er your body weight. Close the eyes and focus on your breath. Hold for 30 seconds.