Chickadee Says: Yoga Poses for Hikers

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yoga Poses for Hikers

Hello Darlings!

Summer is in full swing here in Colorado. And I know the nights are starting to get a little cooler, but that’s perfect for someone who loves the heat but happens to have a puppy dog who was bred to drags sleds through the snow. Essentially now the weather is a more conducive to hiking, and with and excessive amount of hiking comes muscle soreness and tightness, which can be wonderfully combatted by practicing yoga in awesome clothes like these that were gifted to me by Lucy!

While I, of course, would recommend a full hour of yoga practice daily (or weekly, however that may just be the yoga instructor in me) there are certain poses that are incredibly great for hikers, even if practiced for just a few breaths!

Note: I teach from the five foundational yoga poses- descriptions and instructions can be found here: Five Foundational Yoga Poses

My Hatha Capri Leggings fit perfectly!

Hero Pose (Virasana)

While hiking you constantly draw your toes up towards your shins climbing inclines (especially here in Colorado- 14ers anyone!?) which creates a rather uncomfortable ‘crunching’ feeling in your ankles. Hero pose is one great asana to combat that stiffness by stretching the top of your ankles and your shins.

In this pose you have two options for your foot placement, either way you start by kneeling with your shins flat on the floor and thighs directly above. To come into the gentler version of hero, scoot your feet apart, just wider than your hips, so that your big toes are slightly angled in. Your torso should be held, core engaged perpendicular to the floor. Breathe here for a few breaths then slowly release. For an additional arch stretch you can tuck your toes so that all ten pads are grounded into your mat and heels sit directly above them.

Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana) 

Bound angle or butterfly pose is a super simple pose that can either be very restorative or very engaged and is wonderful for gently opening up your hips.

Start in Staff Pose and bend your knees so that your heels slide up towards your body, soles of your feet on the floor. Allow your knees to drift down towards the floor so that the soles of your feet come to touch. From here you can allow your torso to slowly lower towards your mat and come to resting on your back or take your hands to your feet, draw them closer towards your pelvis with your shoulder blades staying flush on your back for a deeper stretch. Energetically draw your knees down towards mat on either side, taking care not to force a hip opening but rather allowing it to happen gradually.

Locust (Salabhasana)

As humans we tend to forget about what we can’t see, often times this means we don’t focus enough on our back bodies (unless you’re FitAspire or Sprint2theTable- who both post incredible back shots on Instagram. Seriously, fit to the max) and as such we walk around rather unbalanced. This imbalance is exacerbated by carrying a pack while hiking. Locus is an amazing pose that both helps to strengthen your back and core as well a backbending heart opener, allowing your shoulder blades to sit comfortably on your back!

Start by lying on your belly with your arms down by your sides, palms up. The variation I prefer most (and teach most often) you bring your hands onto your sacrum and clasp them (the bind not accessible? Use a strap!).  Bring your big toes to touch, and then ground your hips onto your mat. With your inhale, engage your core, both front body and back body (think a corset around your middle, including engaging your glutes) and lift your legs from the thighs and your head and chest off of your mat. If it is comfortable you can send energy out of your clasped hand so that they drift towards your feet and lift off of your back opening your chest further. Maintain your lift for a few breaths and then slowly release back onto your belly.

Loving my Lucy Hatha Flow Jacket!

Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)

The name of this pose always makes laugh. However, it is one of my go-to poses when teaching prenatal classes because it is a wonderful asana for opening your hips and shoulders while building strength in the back body. Tight hips and shoulders are common after (and before!) hiking, and strengthening your back can help your body to better accommodate a heavy pack!

Start in table pose, on all fours making sure that your wrists are stacked under elbows, elbows under shoulders, and that your knees are about hip-distance apart. Slowly walk your hands about a hand length forward, curl your toes, and then let your hips drift back towards your heels. As your hips drift back your arms will come to straight and if it is accessible for you allow your forehead to come to rest on the ground. Keep your arms and core engaged to deepen the stretch and breathe deeply.

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Low lunge is another great hip opener that targets the front hip creases that often feel crunched after trekking through the mountains. With your back knee on the floor it allows for a greater range of motion without adding pressure to your knees!

Start in Downward Facing Dog. Heel-toe your bog toes together and engage your core- both front body and back body. On your next inhale, raise your right leg up towards the sky keeping hip creases level, parallel with the earth. Draw your right knee into your nose then step your right knee through between your hands. Plant your right foot directly under your right knee then drop your left knee to the ground. Re-engage your core, then keeping your right knee steady and directly above your right foot, if accessible, you can begin to slide your left knee back on your mat, maintaining contact with the floor, until you feel a stretch. Using your next inhale to buoy you, lift your torso to upright with your arms engaged and stretched out overhead. Make sure your shoulders drift away from your ears and that your shoulder blades are flat against your back and breathe deeply. When you are ready to come down, plant your hands on your mat, lift your left knee off of the ground, and sweep your right foot back to Down Dog. Repeat on left.

The straps on my San Salute Power Tank are gorgeous.

As I’ve mentioned above, I was super grateful to receive a package of clothing from Lucy to outfit my practice this fall. With comfortable leggings in great colors, beautiful lines, and the thickness I crave (no underwear lines for this girl, thanks), workout tanks with beautiful details (I ADORE the straps on the Sun Salute Power Tank), and my single favorite piece of outerwear I own at the moment, the Hatha Flow Jacket, I am incredibly pleased with Lucy’s yoga gear!

Have you been hiking this summer? Where was your favorite place to hike? Let me know in the comments below!

Psst.. looking to work on something specific in your yoga practice? Let me know here or on Instagram!

Big thanks to Alex of Paper Boy Media for taking these beautiful pictures!

I was compensated with product, payment or both in order to facilitate this post. Some links may be affiliate links. 
All opinions are my own. 
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