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
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.

Yoga For Climbers

Climb­ing and yoga com­ple­ment each oth­er well. In rock climb­ing, you need a strong core and excel­lent con­trol of your movements—both skills you can learn and prac­tice with yoga. A yoga prac­tice can also help keep your body lim­ber and keep cramp­ing away, which will help you stay pain-free on your tougher climbs.

Here’s a roundup of the best pos­es to help tone and strength­en the right mus­cles to aid your climbing.

Cres­cent Lunge
A strong Cres­cent Lunge will strength­en your arms, legs and your core as you bal­ance. Start in a low lunge and rise up with a flat back so your arms are strong by your ears, shoul­ders over your hips and pulling down your back. Keep your core tight and remem­ber to breathe.

 

War­rior II
War­rior II is a great pos­ture for climbers because it will strength­en both your arms and legs as well as increas­es the endurance in your legs, which can pre­vent injuries and trem­bling legs in your climbs. To get into War­rior II, start in a Cres­cent Lunge. Piv­ot your back foot to lay it flat on the ground so the toes are point­ing out slight­ly (at around a 45-degree angle). Keep your front toes point­ing straight for­ward. If your back foot is your left foot, turn your body to face the left and extend your arms straight out to each side. Your shoul­ders should be straight atop your hips, and your arms strong to each side, but your shoul­der still low, pulling down your back. When you feel sta­ble, turn slight­ly to look straight out over your right fin­ger­tips. Do both sides to even out.

 

Half Moon Pose
This pose will strength­en just about every part of your legs and chal­lenge bal­ance. Start from War­rior II and just tip for­ward so your right fin­ger graze the floor in front of your right foot and lift your back leg high off the floor. Lift your left hand straight up and open your chest to the left side. Gaze up to your left fin­gers if it’s OK for your neck. You might need a block for balance.

 

Chair Pose
This is a pose that’ll work your legs nice­ly and give your arms and shoul­ders a sol­id work­out. Start by stand­ing straight up with your feet hip’s width dis­tance apart, then start to squat as if you are sit­ting in a chair, keep­ing your feet flat on the ground, your weight in your heels. Don’t try to sit too far down. Sit just low enough that you can tuck your tailbone—don’t let that butt stick out. Bring your arms up so your biceps are by your ears. Don’t for­get to breathe.

 

Stand­ing For­ward Bend
For big exten­sions on your climb, you’ll need your ham­strings to be loose. Stand­ing For­ward Bend can help with that. Stand up and bend at the hips to reach down to your toes. Just hang. Let your head and neck drop and be loose. Don’t wor­ry if you need to bend your knees. Flex­i­bil­i­ty will come in time and if your ham­strings are super tight, this can be a tough stretch.

 

Eagle Pose
Eagle will do won­ders to stretch out your back and open your hips. Start­ing in a stand­ing posi­tion, bend your right leg, lift­ing it up and over your left thigh, wrap­ping it all the way around your left leg. At the same time, stretch your arms out to the side and bend your right elbow, wrap­ping it under­neath your left, reach up to your left palm in front of your face. Sit into the pose while pulling your arms up towards the ceil­ing and away from your face. But don’t let your shoul­ders creep up to your neck and don’t for­get to do the oth­er side.

 

Stand­ing Splits
Stand­ing Splits build leg strength and chal­lenges the core as you bal­ance. Start in a Stand­ing For­ward Bend. Put all of your weight into your right leg as you peel your left leg up and back, keep­ing it straight with your toes point­ing down. As it lifts high­er, stretch down your right leg a lit­tle far­ther. And breathe. Don’t for­get to breathe here and be sure to switch it up to get the same stretch and strength on the oth­er side.

One of the things new run­ners learn is that run­ning can hurt—and not just the lung-burst­ing, calf-burn­ing sen­sa­tion of the first runs, but the total leg and some­times abdom­i­nal tight­ness the days after. For new and vet­er­an run­ners alike, the tight­ness can lead to some seri­ous injuries if you don’t learn to stretch it out post-run.

For­tu­nate­ly, yoga com­ple­ments your runs nice­ly by both stretch­ing out those tight mus­cles and build­ing strength where you need it. Here are the best yoga pos­es for runners:

But­ter­fly

If you’ve ever tak­en a P.E. class ever, you’re prob­a­bly famil­iar with the But­ter­fly pose. Sit tall on your mat, and put the bot­toms of your feet togeth­er. Inter­lace your fin­gers around your toes and sit up straight, rolling your shoul­ders back and down. If you don’t feel a nice groin stretch already, either bring your feet clos­er in or low­er your knees clos­er to the ground. If you need more, lean for­ward. With every inhale, visu­al­ize the crown of your head reach out to the wall in front of you and with every exhale, sink a lit­tle deep­er and bring your chest clos­er to the ground.

Runner’s Lunge

As the name sug­gests, this pose is great for run­ners. It’ll stretch out your groin and hip flex­ors. Start in a lunge posi­tion with either foot back first. Press through your back heel to straight­en the leg. (Don’t hes­i­tate to let your back knee drop to the ground if you need to.) Your front knee should be over your ankle and your hands on the ground on either side of the front leg. Tuck your tail­bone and raise your heart up with­out mov­ing your hands. And don’t for­get to breathe. Switch up your legs to get the stretch on the oth­er side.

Stand­ing For­ward Bend

Stand up with the out­er edges of your feet par­al­lel (so you’re slight­ly pigeon-toed) and your feet hip’s width dis­tance apart. With a flat back, bend over and let your fin­gers rest on the ground. If your ham­strings are tight, it can be hard to have straight legs; so don’t hes­i­tate to bend your knees. The key is to make sure you’re bend­ing from the hip, rather than round­ing too much. Let your head drop and feel a nice spinal and ham­string stretch.

Dia­mond Pose With Toes Tucked

This one will hurt so remem­ber to breathe. Start by sit­ting on your knees with your shins par­al­lel to each oth­er. Tuck your toes under and sit back on your heels. Rest your hands on your thighs. You will know you’re doing this right when it feels like your toes are scream­ing. Hold for 10 or more breaths to get a nice arch stretch.

Half-Pigeon Pose

Start in a low lunge. Then lay your front leg down so it’s par­al­lel to the front of your mat and bring your back leg down stretch out straight behind you. Sit nice and tall and then slow­ly bend over your front leg—straightening on your inhales and sink­ing on your exhales. You’ll stretch the thighs, groin and your hips. Be sure to do the oth­er side to stay even.

Child’s Pose

Start by sit­ting on your knees with the tops of your feet flat on your mat. Lay over the front of your knees, stretch­ing your arms out. This’ll give you a nice relax­ing pos­ture with a good back stretch. You can also bring your arms behind you on either side for a shoul­der stretch.

Quad Stretch

Begin in a low lunge and bring your back knee to the ground. Then, bend your back knee and reach around to grab the foot, using the same hand as leg. If you want to add a twist, use your oppo­site hand. Hold for sev­er­al breaths, and switch sides. This’ll help loosen up those quadri­ceps while also build­ing bal­anc­ing strength.

Boat

No runner’s yoga prac­tice is com­plete with­out a lit­tle ab work. Sit up straight with your knees and ankles togeth­er, your hands, palms up, by your sides. Lean back, keep­ing a flat back and your stom­ach tight, tail­bone-tucked. And then lift your arms and feet off the ground and straight­en your legs so your body is in a V shape. While this’ll def­i­nite­ly start to work your core, lean­ing back a lit­tle and low­er­ing your legs a lit­tle simul­ta­ne­ous­ly and then crunch­ing back up a few times will help you get that strength your core needs for your hard­er runs.