These 5 Yoga Poses Are Sure to Enhance Your Hiking Experience

hike yogaIf you are a hiker you should know how important it is to stretch especially if you are hiking long distances. Adding a yoga practice before, after, or during your hike will improve both your mental and physical health, allowing you to conquer nature’s challenges while making it less likely that you will experience aches and pains along the way.

“Yoga, before you hike a trail, will help maintain balance on uneven surfaces, focus to move with fluidity and agility, strength and stamina to get you to your destination”

Hiking for long periods requires stamina, strength, balance, focus and lung capacity. Yoga, before you hike a trail, will help maintain balance on uneven surfaces, focus to move with fluidity and agility, strength and stamina to get you to your destination and most importantly will give you the capability to fill your lungs completely while your feet are connecting with the terrain. Practicing yoga after a hike can help alleviate a “hikers hobble” which is the feeling of stiff legs and back muscles after a strenuous hike.

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The most important thing to do while practicing yoga is to listen to your body. If a pose you are attempting is more that just uncomfortable please modify it to fit your body’s needs.

Stay in each pose and take at least five deep breaths in and out your nose using Ujjayi (translated as “victorious”) breathing, which should be both energizing and relaxing. If you find a pose that feels good to you feel free to stay in the pose as long as you like.

1. Standing Head to Knee or Dandayamana Janushirasana:

1Standing Head to Knee posture uses all the major muscle groups of the body.

-Creates balance

Improves concentration

Tightens the abdominal and thigh muscles

-Increases flexibility of the sciatic nerves

-Strengthens the deltoids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, scapula, biceps and triceps

-Strengthens the muscles of the back

How to properly execute:

From a standing position ground down into one leg, place hands on hips and lift thigh parallel to the floor. Once stable round upper body down to thigh and interlace your fingers on the sole of your foot. Inhale and on an exhale extend your leg out straight in front of you by pushing your foot into your hands. Keep your eyes on a non moving point to maintain balance bend your elbows in toward your leg, tuck chin to chest, round the spine and touch forehead to knee.

2. Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana:

yoga2Downward facing dog is an important hamstring and calf stretch and is a great strengthener for the arms, legs, and back.

-Calms the brain and helps relieve stress

-Energizes the body

-Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and hands

-Strengthens the arms and legs

-Improves digestion

-Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue

How to properly execute:

Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly above of your shoulders. Spread your fingers and on an exhale lift your knees off the ground. Lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling, press your hands into the mat, reach your heels toward the floor and release your neck by tucking your chin to your chest.

3. Low Lunge or Anjaneyasana:

yoga3Low lunge helps to improve the strength and flexibility in your hips, legs, shoulders, arms, abdomen, back and knees.

-This pose stretches the gluteus maximus and the quadriceps.

-This pose helps to strengthen as well as tone the muscles in the shoulders and the arms.

-Regular practice of this pose leads to greater strength and flexibility in your legs, knees, hips, arms, shoulders, and abdomen.

-It helps one to strengthen one’s balance.

How to properly execute:

From downward facing dog exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning the right knee over the heel into a 90 degree angle. Then lower your left knee to the floor and, keeping the right knee fixed in place, slide the left back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin. Uncurl your toes so the top of your left foot is touching the floor. Stretch your arms up beside your ears. Then shift your weight forward until you feel a nice stretch in your left hip. Then bring your hands down to the floor, and move your body towards the right thigh. Exhaling take your left knee off the ground and step back into downward facing dog. Repeat all the above steps with the left leg.

4. Seated Forward Fold or Paschimottanasana:

yoga4Seated forward fold provides a deep stretch for entire back side of body from the heels to the neck.

-Stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings

-Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus

-Improves digestion

-Soothes headache, anxiety and reduces fatigue

-Improves blood circulation

How to properly execute:

Take a seated position and extend your legs out in front of you. Inhale lift your arms up by your ears exhale hinging at the hips, bring your upper body to fold over your extended legs. Reach the hands to the toes, feet or ankles. Slightly bend your knees if needed to relieve tension from hamstrings. Bring forehead down to knees

5. Happy Baby Pose or Ananda Balasana:
yoga5Happy baby pose elongates and lengthens the back

-Increases vitality

-Gently stretches the inner groins, lower back and spine.

-Releases the low back, stretches the hamstrings and glutes

Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue.

Relieves neck strain and tightness

How to properly execute:

Lay on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Reach down and grab the outsides of your feet. Bend your knees and hug them to your chest. Open your knees wider than your torso. Then bring them up toward your armpits. Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heels. Gently push your feet up into your hands as you pull your hands down on your feet to create resistance. Slightly tuck chin down toward your chest to lengthen neck.

Any of these poses will give you a sense of vitality and improve your body’s capability to complete your goal with a much lower risk of injury. Remember to always stretch even if just for a few minutes a day! To learn more about my yoga experience please check out my website foxtrotyoga.com.

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