by Gina Caputo
Practice these four poses pre-hike to improve strength and stability for a safer journey and post-hike to ease any tight spots.
Mountain vistas, fall foliage, glistening lakes—the sights along a good trail are worth the inevitable sweat stains and muddy boots. But beyond the aesthetic reward, hiking can also complement your yoga practice: It requires both focus and stamina, making it
a powerful moving meditation. And doing some key poses before you hit the trail will help prep you for sthira (steadiness) to maintain balance on uneven surfaces and sukha (ease) to move with fluidity and agility on the path’s twists and turns. So practice these four poses pre-hike to improve strength and stability for a safer journey, and post-hike to ease any tight spots.
Good for Strengthening your glutes, which help stabilize your hips during the push-off of each upward step.
From Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), lift your right leg up on an inhale. On an exhale, step your right leg forward into a lunge. Plant your hands in front of your foot and push off your back foot to lift your back leg. On
an inhale, extend both legs; as you exhale, bend both knees and tuck your left knee behind your right, keeping your right heel down. Repeat 5–10 times; switch sides.
on Knees, variation
Janu Dandasana, variation
Good for Strengthening your quadriceps, inner thighs, glutes, and core for stability and stamina on long hikes.
Come onto your knees. Place the tops of your feet on the mat and clasp your hands together in front of your chest. Take a deep inhale; on your exhale, lean back without bending your hips, low back, or neck—you should be strong and engaged so you feel like a staff. On an inhale, come back up slowly. Repeat 5–10 times, moving a little lower each time.
Low Lunge, variation
Good for Stretching your hard-working hip flexors, which engage with each and every step.
From Down Dog, lift your right leg up on an inhale. On an exhale, step your right leg forward to your right hand and into a lunge. Lower your back knee to the ground well behind your hips. Place both hands on your front knee. Shift your hips down and forward but press into your front heel and draw your low belly in. Hold for 10 breaths; switch sides.
Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend, variation
Prasarita Padottanasana, variation
Good for Stretching your hamstrings, calves, glutes, back, chest, and shoulders.
From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), extend your arms out to your sides, parallel to
the floor. Step your feet to the width of your arms, toes turned in slightly. Reach back and clasp your hands—if you cannot easily do so, use a strap. Bend your knees slightly. Inhale and lift your chest; exhale to fold forward, aiming your sitting bones high. Hold for 10 breaths.
Want more hiking moves from Gina? Join her at Yoga Journal LIVE! Colorado (September, 22-25) for a Mountain Hike, meditation, and yoga flow.
Gina is based in Boulder, CO, she has founded and directs the Colorado School of Yoga.