Six Yoga Postures for Hikers, Backpacker’s & Stay-at-Homers
Easy but very effective yoga asanas (postures) have the potential to increase general well-being and keep you injury-free on and off the trails. Yoga is also a way to reduce the stress and anxiety we may be experiencing while staying at home these days. No flexibility or experienced is needed. For best results, follow our mini routine before breakfast.
1. Easy Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara)
This mini-sequence is a perfect way to start the day. It only has 6 movements and can easily be followed. The main goal is to stretch the body and hamstrings and get the blood flowing to move out any stagnation within the system.
- Begin in a standing position. If possible, touch your feet together. If this is not possible, keep them hip-width apart.
- Stand slightly pigeon-toed (turn your toes inward) in order to have your legs inwardly rotated. Keep the arches of your feet lifted and then wiggle your toes a couple of times before placing them back onto the ground.
- Inhale and raise your arms above your head. Go for a full vertical extension. If you can, touch hands together.
- Exhale and bend forward (bend knees) and place hands next to feet on floor. Bend your knees as much as needed to actually reach the floor with your fingers.
- Inhale and extend the spine forward and upward, keeping your fingertips in connection with the floor. Keep reaching your heart forward. Be careful not to overdo the movement with your neck! Rather allow it to be an extension of the spine.
- Exhale, fold back in, nose towards leg. Hands remain next to feet, knees bent.
- Inhale and slowly stand back up and extend your hands above the body (like position 1). Again, go for full vertical extension. Touch your hands together, if possible.
- Exhale and lower your arms to your side and come to standing.
- Repeat 3-5 times.
2. Standing Forward Fold
- Stand up tall, feet hip width apart. Exhale folding forward, bending at the hip.
- Grab your elbows, let your head dangle freely.
- Now, keeping knees straight, engage your quadriceps and inner leg muscles and with your exhale, stretch deeper and deeper towards your legs and the floor. You should feel a stretch on the backsides of your legs. Make sure to engage your legs as not to put too much pressure on your hamstring attachments! If the pull is too much, come up with your chest a little bit more.
- Stay for 5-10 breaths. Then release the arms and slowly, on an inhale stand up.
3. Low Lunge
- Start on your knees.
- Bring the right leg forward, knee is bent at 45 degrees. Then, walk your foot a little forward, extend left leg, keeping the knee on the mat/floor.
- Then, shift your weight into your right foot. Keep your hands on your hips and keep the pelvis level. Allow the left side to stretch as much as you can, feeling it mostly on your quadriceps and then around the hip (psoas).
- Stay in posture for 5-10 breaths.
- Then switch sides.
4. Easy Hip Stretch
- Lay on your back, knees bent. Place a pillow under your head for comfort.
- Keep your left leg as is and place your right ankle above the left knee, coming into a figure-4.
- Stay here for a minimum of 25 breaths. Right foot is flexed.
- Then change sides
- If you would like to intensify the stretch, bring your left leg towards your chest, reach through with your arms and interlace your fingers and have your hands holding your left shin. Make sure to keep the right foot flexed as to protect the knee joint. Keep this position as long as you can.
- Then change sides.
5. More Hip Stretching (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Continue to lay on your back. Bend your knees, then bring the soles of your feet together and allow the bend knees to fall to either side. Place pillows underneath your thighs if there is a lot of tightness in your hips.
- Remain in this position for up to 5 minutes.
- To come out, with the help of your hands, bring your knees together and walk your feet to the sides of your mat or further than your hips.
- Keep the knees together and rest the legs for up to 10 breaths.
6. Foot and Ankle Stretch
This is a little more advanced and you may need a little practice to get into it.
- Come to kneel on your knees.
- Bring your legs and feet together and have the ankles touch.
- Slowly bring the weight into your feet by moving the pelvis over your legs and feet, trying to sit down on to your heels.
- The most important thing here is to keep the ankles touching! You will feel a deep stretch in your toes as well as ankle joints. You can place a pillow (or several) on your heels to sit down.
- Remain here for up to 25 breaths. Then stand up and walk a little.
- If you can, repeat up to 3 times and increase the length of time you rest “sitting” on your heels.
Happy trails and Namaste.
By Barbara Glanznig
Barbara “Babsi” Glanznig is a dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practitioner and teacher. She runs a Yoga program in Telluride and teaches yoga retreats all over the world. Babsi spends most of her summer guiding for Ryder-Walker above or near the Arctic circle. You can hike with her in Lofoten, Norway and Iceland. More about Babsi: www.elevatedretreat.com.