Updated: Jan 14
At the backend of last year I posted about using yoga and stretching to overcome knee pain, and at this moment something clicked. I've enjoyed yoga for many years, but more recently have been really deepening my knowledge, and recently geared up as a yoga instructor.
I have a really specific idea of how Yoga can support people achieve specific performance and movement goals, you can find out more about my approach here. Hiking, whilst not a high-intensity activity, should not be approached without taking good care of your body, and preparing it the best way you can. Yoga and hiking are both activities that can have a positive impact on both the body and the mind. Combining the two can lead to even greater benefits, as yoga can help to prepare the body for hiking and can also aid in recovery afterwards. Let's explore how practicing yoga can improve your hiking experience, and I'll give you a few useful yoga poses to try before hitting the trails.
One of the key benefits of yoga is that it can help to increase flexibility and mobility in the body. When hiking, it's important to have a good range of motion in the joints, especially in the hips, knees, and ankles, as these areas are particularly susceptible to injury. Yoga poses such as the lunge and the warrior series can help to open up the hips and strengthen the legs.
Yoga can also help to improve balance and stability, which are crucial for navigating uneven terrain and steep inclines on the trail. Poses such as the tree pose and the eagle pose can help to improve balance and stability by engaging the core and the leg muscles. Quite often our ankles are no where near as stable as they can be, so particular attention should be made to develop them.
Here are a few useful yoga poses to try before hitting the trails:
Stand in a lunge position, with your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle, and your back leg extended behind you with your toes pointing forward. Keep your chest lifted and your core engaged. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths and then switch legs.
The warrior series:
Start in a lunge position and then extend your arms out to the side to form a "T" shape. Your arms should be at shoulder height, and your gaze should be forward. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths and then switch legs.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and then shift your weight onto one foot. Bring the sole of the other foot to the inner thigh of the standing leg and press your hands together in front of your chest. Keep your gaze forward and focus on maintaining your balance. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths and then switch legs.
The eagle pose:
Stand up and bend your knees slightly. Cross your right thigh over your left thigh. Your right foot should be close to your left knee and your left foot should be behind your right ankle. Cross your arms in front of your chest and press your palms together. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths and then switch sides
Start on your hands and knees. Bring your hips back towards your heels, reach your arms forward and press your forehead to the ground. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths
Lie on your back and let your arms and legs fall open. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Let your body relax completely, and stay in this pose for as long as you like.
Incorporating yoga into your hiking routine can help to improve your overall performance, reduce the risk of injury, and make the experience more enjoyable. Remember to always listen to your body and never push yourself too hard. Happy Hiking