When I work out I prefer to use my whole body to gain strength and flexibility. My favorite practices are varied between material arts and yoga. It was only one year ago that I discovered yoga, but I immediately learned how great it is to take yoga with me on the hiking trail.
5 reasons why you should bring yoga to the hiking trail:
1. Yoga helps you to stay flexible and avoid injuries
Pick out a few favorite yoga positions, or asanas as they are called, that you do as a warm-up before you start the hike and as a cool-down when you have arrived to the basecamp in the evening. The yoga positions will help you to stretch out sore muscles and help you to relax your body. This is especially recommended for longer hikes or when you push your limits on the trails. Two of my favorite techniques are Downward Facing Dog for stretching out the body and Childs Pose or Corpse Pose for relaxing.
2. Breathing can be your guide during tough uphill climbing
With the help of breathing techniques, pranayama, you can give life force to your body. Being aware of your breathing can help you to be more present in every moment, and if you practice breathing techniques independently of the postures, they can be even be performed while hiking.
And have you ever noticed that you automatically hold your breath when you get to the tough uphill parts of the trek? This is a natural thing to do when you push your limits – but just be aware of what you are doing and next time remember to breathe. This will give your body more oxygen, and you will perform better.
When I ”lose my breath” while hiking I remind myself of to deepen my breath by counting to four while breathing in and then again counting to four while breathing out.
3. Yoga helps you to be aware of signs from your body
Yoga gives you better body control. The fact is that yoga also builds up and improves your strength, flexibility and balance, and it will reduce feelings of stress and pain. So make yoga a part of your everyday routine.
Yoga will teach you how to interpret signs from your body. And if you listen to the small signs then you will naturally know when it’s time to stop and take a break, you will know what parts of your body need some extra attention, and you’ll know when it’s time to put up your tent and call it an evening.
When you walk the body makes small unconscious adjustments all the time, small balancing acts to be able to make your way over rocky sections and roots on the trail. If you think about it, you are not actively considering your every step – are you? No – you just put your foot down, one step after another. The body knows how to keep you on the straight path.
4. Let Yoga be the boost you need to complete your adventure
Yoga is an ego boost: you become stronger, you’ll learn when you can push your body and when you should take a step back and relax. You’ll become more flexible and have more endurance. Each time you practice you become a little better version of yourself.
There are some very powerful asanas that can give you a boost and fill you with strong energy. Try out any of the Warrior poses you can find online – these are strengthening and will give you a real boost.
5. Hikefulness – Yoga makes you aware of your surroundings
You become more present in the experience of nature if you learn how to be aware of your surroundings and appreciate the very moment you are in.
Next time you are out, take a moment to stop on the hiking trail. Stand on one leg, put your hands together in front of your heart and close your eyes. Feel the tiny dancing movement in your body, hear the wind rumbling in the leaves above your head, feel the wind on your face and breathe in the smell of the soil.
This is when I live at the very fullest. There is no yesterday and no tomorrow. There is only right here and right now.
The mountains are where I’ll always belong.