Feeling a little creaky, crunchy, or stiff? Prep to hit the trails with these yoga moves for hikers.
Not only does yoga help remedy a tight and stiff body, it also provides better flexibility and range of motion which means you’re less prone to injury during the hiking season. This sequence targets the muscle groups in your lower body and other areas you use on the trails. It includes poses to help you build stamina and strength in the places you need it most: Stronger hamstrings and glutes will help you crush hills and distance, and focusing on the muscles of your deep core provides support for your spine—vital when you're carrying a pack.
Practice the following six poses in sequential order—or mix them up. Aim to repeat each pose three times on each side. (If you're dealing with an injury or feel a little unsteady, use a yoga block for the last three poses to help stay balanced.)
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Take a deep and full breath as you press your hips up and back toward the wall behind you. Keep your arms straight and strong and your gaze soft and clear as you hold here for three to five breaths.
[Benefits] Improves circulation; stretches and strengthens the entire body; stretches the spine; helps calm the nervous system
Half-Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Come into a plank position (the top of a push-up) from your Down Dog. Stack your shoulders directly over your wrists and hug your arms and legs in towards your midline. Broaden your chest, draw your belly in and up, and lower down half-way (lower your knees for support). Scoop your tailbone in and up so that the muscles around your pelvis and low belly engage. At the end, press back into Down Dog.
[Benefits] Strengthens arm, shoulders, and leg muscles; develops core stability
From your Down Dog step forward with one foot, placing it in between your hands and keeping your front knee directly over your ankle at a 90-degree angle. Press down into your feet and squeeze your inner thighs in and up toward one another. On your next inhale, take your hands to your hips—pause to find steadiness—then stretch your arms up and overhead. Take three breaths while you hold here. Switch your legs and repeat.
[Benefits] Stretches groin; strengthens arms and legs
Extended Side-Angle Pose (Uthitta Parsvakonasana)
From a lunge position, spin your back heel down onto the mat. Stretch your arms out to the side and on your inhale lift and lengthen your chest, as well as the sides of your torso. Exhale and bring your front hand down to the outside edge of your front foot, or place your elbow on your thigh for extra support. Reach your top arm toward the wall in front of you so that your bicep comes alongside your ear. Hold here for three to five breath and switch sides.
[Benefits] Strengthens and stretches legs, knees, and ankles; stretches groin, waist, lungs, and shoulders; increases stamina
Triangle Pose (Uthitta Trikonasana)
Come back into Side-Angle Pose and straighten your front leg. Instead of bringing your bicep over your ear, stretch your top arm straight up. Broaden your chest, tighten your belly, hug your legs in, and stretch for three to five breaths before repeating on the opposite side. Note: To avoid cranking your neck, gently tuck your chin in toward your chest.
[Benefits] Stretches and strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles; stretches hips, groin, hamstrings, calves, and spine; therapeutic for flat feet
Half-Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
From Triangle Pose, place your bottom hand about six inches in front of you and kick your back leg up off the mat. Powerfully press down into your standing leg and stretch your top arm up. Engage your core for more support and hold for three breaths. Switch sides.
[Benefits] Strengthens abs, thighs, ankles, butt, and spine; stretches the groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine; improves coordination and sense of balance