Hiking is an intimate way to explore our great Earth and see what beauty it offers. Immersing yourself in nature is proven to reduce stress and increase our connection with the world around us.
While hiking has its perks we all know some trails are more treacherous than others. Uneven terrain, scaling mountainsides, and exposure to the elements can cause a lot of different bodily pains.
Combining your yoga practice with your passion for hiking is a great way to protect and nourish your body and mind. Difficult hikes can create a sense of anxiety, often causing the hiker to think: what’s around this corner? Will I be able to complete this hike?
Adding the specific yoga poses listed below to your hiking groove will not only benefit your body, but it will also calm your mind. Giving you a sense of (much needed) stability, even through your most difficult hike.
You don’t have to be an experienced yogi to reap the benefits of adding yoga into your hike. Most of the positions we will be talking about today are beginner-level positions. So, everyone on the hike can stretch their aches and pains away!
If you’re interested in learning about the best yoga poses for hikers, you’ve come to the right place; continue reading to learn about each of these specially chosen yoga poses for hikers.
1. Standing Forward Fold
The standing forward fold is a fantastic pose for hikers because it opens up the hips, thighs, and calves, all of which can get tight from a hike.
You can either practice this pose before your hike to warm up your muscles and calm your mind before the hard work ahead, or you can use this position mid-hike to keep the muscles from getting tight.
To begin, start with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward from the hips, allowing your chest to drop toward your thighs. It’s okay to let your knees bend in this position.
Yoga is not supposed to cause pain, so focus on what feels good instead of perfecting the pose.
When bent over, chest toward your thighs, focus on pushing your sit bones up. You can clasp your hands together over your elbows, or let them dangle freely. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is an easy transition from the standing forward fold, making it easy to flow with your breath. This is also a great position to stretch almost everything; benefiting the shoulders, lower back, hips, thighs, and even calves.
To start, plant your hands firmly on the ground either walking your feet back or hopping. Stretch your shoulders away from your ears. Push your sit bones back to complete an “A” like position.
Remember, it’s okay to bend your knees. These stretches are supposed to feel good, they shouldn’t strain your body.
The cat-cow pose will continue stretching the lower back, shoulders, diaphragm, and chest.
These parts of the body can often be overlooked when hiking! Sometimes we focus on our lower body because it’s easy to think it’s doing most of the work on our trek but our spine needs just as much attention.
To start, from Downward Facing Dog bring your knees to the floor. Adjust your arms so they form a straight line under your shoulders, palm pushing the floor. This is tabletop pose.
From tabletop pose take a deep breath in, lifting your chest and head into cow pose. On the exhale, round your back up toward the sky dropping your chin to chest — this is cat pose. Continue this for 3-5 breaths.
4. Low Lunge
Low Lunge will give your hip flexors the extra love they need while carrying up the hike. This is a great preventive pose to use before a hike, or it can be added in while hiking for some mid-journey assistance.
To start, place your right foot between your hands; this can be done in either downward dog pose or tabletop position.
Gently rest your opposite knee on the ground. Interlace your fingers over your right thigh, pushing your hip flexors forward. Make sure your right knee does not overlap your ankle.
Hold this position for 3-5 breaths, release, and then repeat the process with your opposite leg.
5. Half Split
Half Split focuses on stretching the hamstrings and groin, which is perfect for those hikes with difficult terrain.
To start, from low lunge lower down onto your left knee, untucking the toes so they lay flat on the ground.
Flex your right foot, pointing your toes toward your body. Begin to straight the right knee (remember you don’t want to feel pain). Keep your hips square and your spine lengthened.
If you’re an advanced practicer, begin to forward fold from your hips over your right leg. Hold this pose for 5-7 breaths to really reap its benefits.
6. Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold is a variation of the forward fold we talked about earlier. This pose focuses on opening the hips, hamstrings, and thighs, but it offers an arm variation that opens up the back, shoulders, and chest.
Opening the back and chest is really great if you plan on carrying a backpack.
To begin, walk feet out a little past shoulder level. Rotate toes slightly inward with heels facing out. For the arm variation, interlace the arms behind you — feel free to skip this step if you’re not carrying a backpack.
Breath in. On exhale, forward fold, keeping your arms interlaced if you’re doing the arm variation. Hold this pose for 5-7 breaths.
7. Pyramid Pose
You can ease into Pyramid Pose easily from many different yoga poses. It focuses on stretching your hamstrings, calves, and ankles.
To start, stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Step your left leg back about 2.5 feet behind you, keeping your right foot at a 45-degree angle and your hips square forward.
Inhale. On exhale, forward fold at the hips reaching your arms toward your right foot. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths, release and continue on the opposite side.
8. Jiva Squats
Jiva squats are a great yoga pose for hikers to do before their hike to warm up and strengthen their glutes.
This is a more advanced yoga pose but can be perfected with a little practice. From the right-sided Low Lunge pose, plant your hands in front of your foot and lift the left leg in the air, keeping your hips square with the ground.
Inhale while stretching both your legs. On an exhale, bend both your legs tucking right knee behind left keeping your right heel firmly planted. Repeat this hiker-friendly yoga pose 3-5 times on each side.
9. Dancer Pose
Dancer pose is a great stretch for your glutes and hamstrings but it also will help improve your balance for hikes with difficult terrain.
To begin, stand in mountain pose with feet shoulder-width apart. Inhale and raise your right arm to the sky dropping the other towards the hip. Kick your left foot toward the glute catching the inside ankle with your left hand.
Keep the right knee soft, feel free to bend if it gives you stability. Press your left foot into your left hand to create a stretch in the quadriceps.
If you’re looking for a challenge, begin to fold at the hips while pushing your chest forward as you continue to push your foot back into your hand. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths.
10. Hero Pose
Hero pose will strengthen your knees, shins, calves, and ankles, which is crucial before any hike — no matter how difficult. This is a great pose to end your hiking yoga routine with as it is very calming.
To start, kneel on the floor so that your knees are touching. You can add a blanket or cushion underneath for extra support.
Shift your feet slightly away from your hips but keep them laying flat on the floor. Rest your glutes on your feet, adjust your feet if you are feeling any discomfort. Hold this pose for 10 breaths.
Feel free to hold this pose longer than 10 breaths, as it’s a perfect position for a brief meditation.
Learning the Most Beneficial Yoga Poses for Hikers
No matter how difficult your hikes are, whether you’re taking day-long treks up mountains or just taking a stroll through your favourite park, including yoga in your hiking routine will benefit your body and mind.
These yoga poses for hikers stretch away from your aches and pain while improving your balance. These poses can help calm your mind, especially in the midst of a difficult hike.
The best part about combing your yoga practice with your hiking is that you can include it before, during, or even after to help keep your body from tightening — which can cause soreness and injury.
So what are you waiting for? Include a few of these simple poses in your next hike and see how much a few stretches gain improve the state of your muscles after a workout!
Please feel free to explore the rest of our site to find more yoga and meditation tips, tricks, and advice including 6 of the best yoga poses for flexibility.