Yoga for Hiking


yoga for hikers

Why You Should Do Yoga to Improve Your Hiking Skills

Yoga is a physical (and, for some, spiritual) activity that involves stretching, strength building, and balance poses that are all connected mindfully to the breath. Practicing yoga for hiking can be a test in patience and skill, same as hiking. Yoga can truly improve your hiking skills.

When we hike, we want to be efficient and strong. Not only should you incorporate yoga outside the trail (during your day off maybe!) but also while out on the trail. Improve the below characteristics in your hiking and in your life by introducing yoga into your exercise regime.

Click on the characteristic below to learn yoga for hikers and how yoga improves hiking.

Balance | Stamina | Strength | Flexibility | Patience

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Balance

Tree Pose

Tree Pose / Photo Credit: @madidragna on Instagram

Whether you know it or not, balance is a crucial component of hiking. Balance is needed during hiking to easily pass through a rocky boulder field, scramble up a mountain efficiently, and hop across rocks through rivers and streams with ease.

To improve your balance while out on the trail, try these poses:

Tree Pose | Tip Toe Pose (Also improves foot flexibility!)

Stamina

warrior pose

Warrior I / Pose in Sun Salutations B / Photo Credit: @madidragna on Instagram

If you are seeking to improve your stamina, you should look into practicing yoga sequences similar to the routines offered at Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga classes. By understanding how to connect your breath to your body’s movements while you strengthen, stretch, and continuously move, you will be able to control your heart rate better. You will increase stamina through yoga cardio, which will teach you how to maintain an even breathing pattern through rigorous activity. This will reduce fatigue and the feeling of being ‘out of breath’ during hiking.

To improve stamina while out on the trail, practice:

Sun Salutations A | Sun Salutations B (Learn the form before attempting. Consider visiting a yoga studio to learn the proper way to chaturanga to reduce injury)

Strength

side plank pose - yoga for hiking

Side Plank with Leg Lift

Strength building for the trail doesn’t just involve lower body exercises but also core and upper body (strong abs and shoulders will help the backpacker tremendously). Not only does yoga build strength in the obvious places through lunges and core excercisese but new strength will be found the more flexible your body becomes through a dedicated yoga practice. Strength is needed to step up or down efficiently, scramble up or down mountains, and to wear a fully-loaded pack with no problems or struggle.

To improve strength in your hiking, try these poses:

Attempt to hold the below postures for at least 5-10 breaths. For more of a challenge, try holding for 30 seconds.

Plank / Side Plank / Forearm Plank (for core and shoulder strength) | High Lunge / Warrior I / Warrior II (for lower body strength)

Flexibility

Wheel Pose

Wheel Pose / Photo Credit: @madidragna on Instagram

Flexibility is one of the most thought-of aspects of yoga. With flexibility in the body, your body will be able to withstand certain maneuvers that would typically cause injury in a stiff body. When things get hairy on the trail, such as rock piles and steep ascents and descents, your body should be prepared. When you need to utilize your hands to stretch up to reach a support hold during bouldering, you need flexilbity to reach and strength to pull up. When technical foot placement is required, your need to stretch your legs to reach certain holds as well, and flexibility will aid in this too.

Do these easy poses to improve your flexibility while on the trail:

Ankle Rolls | Low Lunge | Side Bends | Seated Forward Bend (for hamstrings) | Bridge (for spine)

Patience

meditation in mountains while hiking

Meditating on a mountain / Photo Credit: @madidragna on Instagram

Both yoga and hiking have more than just physical aspects to them but also mental aspects. Hiking requires patience. Only your feet will get you over the mountain and that will take some time. As in hiking, yoga also takes patience. Your body will not be able to easily master every single pose, not matter if you are a beginner at yoga or have been practicing for years. Both yoga and hiking are meditations in motion.

To practice patience while on the mat, on the trail, in traffic, at the grocery store, and anywhere in your life, practice meditation.

Meditation does not have to be challenging. If you are new to meditation, find a comfortable seat and light a candle in front of you. Set a time for 2 minutes and stare at the candle’s flame for those two minutes, quieting the mind and trying your hardest to not think of anything. If you found this easy, increase the time and then remove the candle and close your eyes. Try to meditate at least once a day for a few minutes.

 


Through yoga, hiking can become easier both mentally and physically. Yoga for hiking is a great way to see improvement in your hiking abilities.

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What certain poses have improved your hiking ability? Tell us in the comments below!

 

Sources:
http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-benefits-and-effects-of-yoga-for-runners
http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/how-yoga-can-help-your-running

Madison Dragna

Madison is a long distance hiker and devoted yogi. She completed the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and Corsica's treacherous GR 20 in 2014. When she's not traveling, she enjoys life as a freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colorado.
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