I love to hike, almost as much as I love yoga, and summer in the Pacific Northwest opens up so many exciting places to explore on trail by foot. Each time I get out on a trail, whether solo or with my family and friends, I am thankful for this amazing place that I get to call home and grateful for my body to carry me.
To me, hiking is a moving meditation. It brings me relief from stress, clarity of mind, and inspiration for my spirit, all by taking one foot in front of the other and absorbing the nature around me. Although it is a great cardio exercise, hiking can be physically taxing and sometimes my knees or back complain, especially the next day. That is when I am grateful to have yoga help me out. It prepares my body physically, gives me relief while on the trail and stretches me out after the hike is complete.
To prepare for a summer hiking adventure, an on-going yoga practice is ideal, but if you haven’t had time for a class recently you can prepare for your hike with a few helpful poses. Choose asanas that lengthen the hip flexors, hips, and hamstrings. Combine those with poses that build strength for legs and glutes. Examples would be bridge pose, crescent lunge, warrior I & warrior II, triangle, and pyramid.
While on the trail, let your feet carry you and not your mind. Open your senses to the sights and sounds around you. Practice your mantra or breath count along with your steps. Keep returning to the moment by inhaling the fresh air and exhaling into the beauty of nature and life.
Once arriving to your destination or place of pause, DON’T SIT DOWN! Instead, take off your pack, reach up to the sky and lengthen your back. Add a chest opener, with your hands interlaced behind your back and then reach up again for a side bend to release the effects of gravity on your spine and neck. Next, find a tree or even the ground and stretch out and lengthen your back and hamstrings by reaching into your down dog variation. Add a calf stretch with your toes stretching up a rock (be mindful not to overdo it) and finally, a quad balance by bringing one foot behind you while drawing your knees toward one another (use a tree to balance as needed). Don’t forgot to hydrate with water!
Once you arrive back at the car, DON’T SIT DOWN! Instead this is the perfect time to let your heated muscles release and lengthen. Sitting down will only add to tight muscles the next day. The car is a great yoga prop, just like a tree. Use the bumper to rest one leg on a at a time on for a hamstring stretch (remember to bend from the hips and not round your back if you come forward). Then, reach for the top of the car for another down dog variation with your spine long. Add in a calf stretch, by bringing one foot forward and bending at the knee for a lunge while pressing the back heel down. Then stretch your hamstrings while in the same position by straightening the front leg while keeping your hands on top of the car. From here you can open your torso to the side for triangle. Repeat these last three poses with the other leg coming forward. If you have time, add in a quad stretch and upper back bend like you did on the mountain top.
I hope these suggestions give you some relief and happy muscles while out on some summer adventures. This month, my family and I are lucky to head up to Southeast Alaska where we get to explore and play in the amazing outdoors there. Perhaps when you read this post, I will be already up on some mountain doing my quad stretch and counting my blessings of living in this amazing, beautiful world!
Click here to learn more about Trina and see her teaching schedule.