While training for hiking and backpacking is important, it does not always eliminate the potential of dealing with pains, aches, and niggles on the trail. Yoga, however, can make a significant difference in terms of how you feel after spending a heavy day in the wilderness. Although an extra 30 minutes of being physical at the end of your hiking or backpacking day may not be appealing, yoga for hikers and yoga for backpackers can help you stretch your body and even prepare your mind for a restful night.
It is worth noting that yoga is not just useful post-hiking or post-backpacking – you can also use a simple hiking yoga sequence to prepare yourself for a tough day on the trails. Practicing yoga for backpackers before grabbing your backpacking backpack can help spur you along.
In this article, we will look at the top yoga poses you can use as a backpacker or hiker. We will also tell you whether each pose is ideal before or after your day on the trail.
1. Pigeon Pose
This yoga pose is ideal for stretching the external hip flexor muscles and hip rotators. It helps keep the hips flexible by relieving the tension.
Best done: After backpacking or hiking.
How to Do the Pigeon Pose
Bring the right knee to touch the right elbow from the downward-facing dog position. Next, lower your right leg to the ground (floor) with your shin bone touching your mat – at this point, the right heel should be up and the top of the ankle joint should be touching your mat. The heel will reconnect to the left hip crease.
Bring the left leg down and allow the top of your left foot to meet the yoga mat – keep this straight. To make the stretch deeper, consider pressing the top of your left foot into your yoga mat. With the fingertips/palms into your mat and the arms straight, wait for 5 breaths.
Once you feel ready, walk the hands forward slowly and press the palms into your floor. Stay in the position for five breaths before walking the hands forward until the arms become outstretched. If your forehead cannot reach the floor, rest it on a thick book/block. Breath for 1 to 5 minutes in this position.
Repeat the above on your other side.
2. King Dancer
This yoga for hikers helps improve the posture by counteracting the tendency to round the shoulders and collapse the chest. The pose also helps strengthen most of the muscles you will need after donning your hiking boots, including the shoulder, spine, arms, back, and legs.
The pose will stretch the front of your body – the belly, the chest, and – most importantly for those who like to use their hiking backpacks – the hip flexors.
Best done: After or during hiking/backpacking.
How to Do the King Dancer
From a standing position, bend your right knee and draw your right heel toward the bum. Hold the inner/outer ankle with your right hand. While keeping your thighs together, locate your gazing point or focal.
After firming the foundation in your standing leg, start flexing the right foot and then lift the foot sole toward your ceiling.
Open your shoulders and start drawing them from your ears while lifting the left arm either straight up towards your ceiling or forward. The lifted arm should counterbalance the weight of your lifted right leg.
Subtly, contract your ribcage and draw your belly button toward the spine. This should prevent a deep bend in your low back. Hold the pose for about 15 to 30 seconds. Be sure to breathe steadily and smoothly.
While coming out of the pose, inhale. As you lower the arm and leg, exhale. Repeat on your other side.
3. Toe Breaker
This yoga for backpackers and hikers is useful when it comes to stretching the feet, especially if you have spent the day wearing big, heavy men’s or women’s hiking boots. In addition to releasing foot tension, the pose can help prevent plantar fasciitis.
Best done: Soon after backpacking, with the hiking shoes and hiking socks off.
How to Do the Toe Breaker Pose
Start on your knees and hands, with your toes tucked under.
Slowly, slide yourself back. Gradually take more weight into your feet.
If the position gives you the plantar stretch, stay there. Otherwise, bring the hands onto the thighs.
Sit tall and then breathe slowly up and down your spine. Allow the bodyweight to sink into the feet soles.
4. Warrior 2
On top of focusing your mind, this strong pose will work on all your major muscles. The lower body benefits offered by yoga for hikers and backpackers include hip opening and strengthening, and thigh toning. The yoga pose engages the core, aiding with back strength. When executed correctly, the pose can help you with balance and stability during your day and night hiking trips.
Best done: During or before hiking/backpacking
How to Do Warrior 2
Start with a forward bend, step your left foot back, into a deep lunge. Turn your left foot outwards ninety degrees. Glance back to check the left foot arch aligns with your right foot heel. The right foot knee should be above your ankle at approximately ninety degrees and shouldn’t move forward over your front ankle.
To raise your upper body, lift your hands off the floor. Lead with your left arm like clock hands while allowing the right body side to follow, drawing the upper part of the body upwards. Take your 2 hands to the sky. Now, the upper body should be facing the same direction as the left toes and upright.
Take your left hand back and the right hand forward while keeping both hands level with the shoulder’s pals, facing downwards. Draw the shoulder blades down your back and towards each other.
Engage the arm muscles by extending the hands. While keeping your chin raised, take your gaze forward toward the right hand.
With your left hand, draw backward. This should ensure that the upper body is vertical. Ground down with your feet’s outer edges and toes to raise the feet arches from the floor. Draw the muscles to the leg’s bones.
Transition slowly by bringing your hands to the ground, rocking your back foot forward to form the forward bend. Repeat on your other side.
5. Crow Pose
This will help you stretch both the groin and upper back. After a whole day of carrying your hiking daypack around, the pose can help relieve the tension.
Best done: After or during the hiking/backpacking trip
How to Do the Crow Pose
With the feet hip-width apart (while standing), squat down and place the hands on the floor in front of the toes, approximately shoulder-width apart. Spread the fingers wide.
Maintaining the feet and hands position, lift the hips toward the sky. Bend at the knees and lift the heels off the floor. Only the feet balls should be down now.
Press the knees into the back of your armpits (or triceps) and start shifting weight into your fingertips (keep gazing forward). Pick up one foot off the floor and then the other. Don’t forget to breathe.
6. Eagle Arms
This yoga for backpackers will help you stretch the upper and middle back. It helps release the tension which often results from carrying a heavy pack after donning your hiking pants.
Best done: After hiking or backpacking.
How to Do Eagle Arms
Give yourself a body hug. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Lift the elbows gently, up to the shoulder height.
Once comfortable, wrap both upper arms, above the elbows, together with the fingers to the sky.
Press the forearms away from the face. Hold for three to four breaths.
Take breaths and then switch sides, bringing the other arm on the bottom.
7. Crescent Lunge
This pose is ideal for stretching the hip flexor after using your trekking poles for a whole day. Additionally, the yoga for hikers and backpackers helps strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, making things easier once you put on your hiking hat.
Best done: After, during, or before hiking/backpacking
How to Do Crescent Lunge
From the downward dog, exhale and then step the right foot forward between both hands.
Bend the knee to ninety degrees.
Leave the back heel up, such that you are on the left foot-ball.
Both hips should be facing forward. You may need to draw the left hip forward and the right hip back slightly. While pushing back through the back heel, lift the left knee and then straighten the back leg.
Tuck the tailbone under. Inhale while sweeping the arms upward, the palms facing and your fingertips stretched upwards.
Hold for approximately 5 slow exhalations and inhalations. Repeat on your other side.
8. Leg Up the Wall
This allows you to invert the body, taking the weight and effort of the feet and legs. It is perfect for releasing tension after using your compass on the trails for a whole day.
Best done: After hiking or backpacking
How to Do the Leg Up the Wall Pose
Locate a tree (or wall) featuring clear ground around it.
Get the right/left hip as close as possible to the tree/wall. Begin swinging the legs up and against the wall. Keep the back on the floor. Wiggle around until you become comfortable enough.
Stay here for about 30 breaths.
9. Half Lord of the Fishes
This yoga for backpackers is ideal for stretching the thighs, glutes, and hips. The pose will also provide a twist to the neck and spine.
Best done: Before or after backpacking/hiking
How to Do the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
With the legs stretched out in front and the back straight, sit.
Bend your legs and place the outside of your left foot to the right of your right hip. Keep the knee down.
With your right foot, step over your left knee and then place the right foot sole to the left of the left leg’s knee.
Inhale and then raise your left arm. Exhale and then twist to the right. Reach your left-hand elbow toward your left knee, down the right lower leg’s right side.
Straighten your left arm and then try to reach the inside of your right foot.
Rotate your head to the right. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Inhale and then release the twist, straightening your legs.
Repeat on your other side.
10. Mountain Pose
This is one of the easiest yoga poses. It is perfect for calming both the body and the mind before or after your hiking trip.
Best done: After, during, or before hiking/backpacking
How to Do Mountain Pose
Using the outer edge of the feet and then around to the toes, root your 2 feet to the earth. Next, bend the knees slightly and engage the thighs.
Lift your kneecaps and then energetically and externally, rotate your thighs outward.
Tuck the tailbone under slightly. Engage the core to lengthen up via the spine.
Bring the shoulders back and down. Tuck the chin slightly in.
Facing forward, bring the palms by your side. Your muscles should be engaged and relaxed.
Globo Surf Overview
With the right yoga poses, releasing the tension, calming the mind, and eliminating the chances of dealing with pains and aches after a hiking or backpacking trip should be possible. This article shows you the best yoga for hikers and backpackers.
When following the steps for each yoga pose, listen to your body – if something hurts, consider skipping the pose or adjusting to a more comfortable position. Always remember that the goal is to feel great, not to end up with more injuries.
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- Yoga for Hikers: How to Recover Quickly After an Epic Trek, Myfiveacres.com