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.
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.
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.
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.