Yoga poses for before, during and after a hike from our Yoga Instructor Emma Wall.
Nothing quite marries the yoga qualities of mindfulness and being present with the physicality of your body and breath as a trek; where the world opens up into infinity in front of your very eyes, taking your consciousness into a quieter and more primordial headspace as you feel your connectedness with the bigger picture that is the energy of nature all around you.
But unfortunately nothing can ruin your down with nature vibe like an injury or tight achy quads and glutes, which leave you walking like a cowboy for days after; with the calves, hamstrings and hips also getting a run for their money. Luckily as yoga lovers we have a whole range of tools in our yoga toolkit to help us have safe and enjoyable hikes. Leaving us more time to focus on the fresh air and scenery and less time to focus on annoying niggles and strains.
We start with asanas that can be done before we leave the lodge to either strengthen the appropriate muscles or to start to stretch them out before the challenge ahead. Likewise, when we’re out on the hike itself we can incorporate some yoga variations into our scenic pauses to make sure that nothing’s tightening or cramping up on us. And of course we mustn’t forget when we get in from all that fresh air and exercise to take some nice long stretches to prevent the aforementioned cowboy swagger the next day.
Before: Standing forward fold holding opposite elbows.
Try to keep a slight bend in your knees in this pose. You can even rest your belly all the way onto your thighs, which will begin to fire them up in the process. The straighter your legs the more your hamstrings will feel the stretch.
During: Pyramid pose.
Lean as far over your front leg as possible, using a tree if you can’t fold down over the front leg due to tight hamstrings.
After: Downward facing dog.
Peddle out your legs in Downdog and then find some stillness and hangout for a minute or two with your sit bones reaching as far up as you can. Bend your knees to shoot your sit bones up before lowering your heels towards the ground.
Before: Chair pose (to strengthen) and standing quad stretch directing your bent leg knee directly to the floor.
During: Dancers pose with a tree.
After: Hero’s pose to relieve tired legs and also stretch out the ankles.
You can lean back on your hands or elbows or lower all the way down onto your back resting on some cushions. Make sure your knees don’t leave the floor and avoid this pose all together if you have sensitive knees.
Before: Runner’s lunge.
During: Wide legged forward fold.
If you want to give your shoulders a bit of light relief from your backpack at the same time, then clasp your hands behind your back and draw your hands up and over your back.
After: Supine Hamstring stretch.
Use a belt or your hands behind your thigh to keep your torso relaxed on the floor. You can take your foot across to the other side afterwards for a supine spinal twist to help release any built up pressure in the spine.
Before: Bound angle pose.
Externally rotates the hips and starts to open up the groin. This pose taken as a reclining version is also a nice way to wind down after a vigorous day of exertion.
During: Garland pose/squat.
Not only a great hip opener but also releases built up pressure in the lower back and strengthens the ankles and shins.
After: Pigeon pose/Figure of 4.
Depending on your hip rotation and knee sensitivity you may want to take the less intense version of this hip opener by taking Figure of 4 on your back. This pose targets all the same muscles as Pigeon but without the weight bearing element.
Before: Cobra or Locust (for strengthening) and a seated twist such as Half lord of the fishes to stretch the glutes.
During: Eagle Pose.
This pose is particularly effective at stretching the gluteus medius. You can include the arms in this pose to stretch out across the shoulder blades, or simply hold onto a tree for balance support.
After: Happy Baby.
Also a great hip opener. Feel free to rock side to side in this pose massaging your pelvic bones. Grab hold of your shins if you can’t reach the outside of your feet.
Emma from Ocean Flow Fitness will be combining her advanced yoga knowledge and passion for the outdoors with the mountain expertise of Alpine Action Adventures over the summer to bring you revitalising alpine yoga retreats. Alpine flow yoga retreat provides a ‘where the mountains meet the water’ experience in The French Alps, incorporating a wide range of mountain activities and holistic experiences including: Vinyasa yoga, Yin yoga, mountain treks, SUP yoga, mindfulness exercises and riverside hikes. All in a traditional alpine lodge with delicious vegetarian food cooked by an in house nutritionist.
For more information please contact either organiser: