Why You Should do Yoga while Hiking

Find a good spot to do your yoga (image courtesy of www.yogahikesdc.com)

Find a good spot to do your yoga (image courtesy of http://www.yogahikesdc.com)

After a day of hiking, you might develop what is referred to as “the hiker hobble.” It’s when you wake up in the morning (or get up after a long break), and all of your muscles are stiff. You inevitably have to hobble around camp for a few minutes before you have full range of motion again. It’s no secret that walking up and down mountains with a 25 pound pack will tighten up your leg and back muscles. However, you can do something about it!

Why should you practice yoga during your hiking trip?

  • It loosens your muscles and allows you full range of motion.
  • Yoga helps to improve your balance, which reduces your chance of getting injured while hiking over varied terrain.
  • Doing yoga strengthens your core muscles, which are important for your hiking endurance.
  • Yoga helps you feel more mentally balanced and put together. It helps you to relax and stop focusing on the negative.

Where do you start?

“Great,” your thinking. “I’m spending all of my time researching backpacking and now you’re telling me I have to learn a totally different sport?”

Maybe one day you'll be this good (image courtesy of www.backonpointe.tumblr.com)

Maybe one day you’ll be this good (image courtesy of http://www.backonpointe.tumblr.com)

OK, so the key here is not to treat yoga as something you HAVE to do. Think of it as something that is just somewhat beneficial to your hike. You don’t have to learn and perfect every pose. You just have to learn a few, pick your favorites, and do them occasionally while on the trail. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

  • Try a few different yoga workouts on YouTube. Learning yoga poses is easier if you are actually watching someone else do them, as opposed to reading descriptions and trying to figure it out yourself. I like the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene┬ábecause she doesn’t take herself too seriously and I always feel awesome after her workouts.
  • Learn some poses that stretch your back, neck, and legs. Those areas get worked pretty hard while you’re hiking.
  • You really don’t need to memorize every stretch on every workout video you watch. You’ll remember the stretches that you like best, and you can just combine them into your own yoga session.
  • Just let the yoga flow. Do what feels right. Try to clear your mind, instead of over-thinking the yoga.
  • Don’t beat yourself up about doing yoga everyday on the trail. You don’t HAVE to do it everyday. Just do it every other day or a few times a week. If it starts to feel like a chore, you won’t enjoy it.
  • If you have a foam sleeping pad, you can just throw it on the ground and use it as a yoga mat. I probably wouldn’t use a inflatable sleeping pad due to the risk of punctures. But yoga is a great excuse to not splurge on an inflatable pad.
  • I’m not really a creature of habit, so I couldn’t really get into doing yoga at a certain time of day. I tried to get in the habit of stretching in the evening before dinner, but it started to just feel like another chore I had to do at the end of the day. I found that I liked yoga much better if I just did it whenever the mood struck, like while chilling at a nice view.

Resources:

“Yoga for Backpackers”, Backpacker Magazine

Yoga with Adriene, YouTube

“5 Yoga Poses for Hikers”, Active.com

3 thoughts on “Why You Should do Yoga while Hiking

  1. While backpacking on my honeymoon last year, we woke up each morning stiffer than the previous day. Stretching a bit before hitting the trail was exactly what we needed. I’ll definitely look up a few yoga poses before our next trip this summer. Yoga/stretching is a great addition to a day of backpacking!

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