Five Yoga Poses For Hikers

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Stay Balanced On and Off the Trails

By Elizabeth R. Kovar M.A., Photos by Dane Doerflinger

Hikers often forget how much balance is required to safely and effectively hike and to avoid injury. Adequate balance is required when you are stepping on roots, standing on a rock or gazing at the horizon while walking.

Luckily, yoga is an efficient form of exercise to train for balance, flexibility and deep breathing simultaneously. The Yoga poses pictured here will lengthen your muscles, expand your lungs and improve your stability to keep you strong and balanced on and off the trail.

Hold these poses for 30 to 60 seconds per posture. Complete this routine either by completing each pose (and both sides) as its own exercise, or flow into each pose with your right leg first, and switch to the left.

Hero pose.

1. Hero Pose Variation

This pose opens the bottom of the feet, connective tissue and the plantar fascia, which is important for optimal gait and impact from hiking downhill.

How to perform:

Sit on your shins and curl your toes under. Release your hips on your heels and allow your bodyweight to open the body of the feet.

2. Crescent Lunge

This pose strengthens the legs, challenges split-legged balance and primarily opens the hip flexor and chest.

How to Perform:

From standing, step your right foot behind and stay on the ball of your back foot. Bend your left knee to 90 degrees over the ankle. Raise arms overhead and continue to breathe deeply.

Airplane Pose.

3. Airplane Pose

This pose increases core strength, challenges one-legged balance and stabilizes the inner and outer thigh of the stance leg.

How to Perform:

From Crescent lunge, bring arms to the side of the shoulders and slowly lower your back knee, similar to a lunge. Propel off and forward to balance on one leg. Hinge your hips forward. The most challenging pose places the torso parallel to the ground.

Triangle Pose.

4. Triangle Pose

This pose opens hips, chest and the lateral side of the body. To increase the balance challenge, look toward the sky or close your eyes.

How to Perform:

From airplane, slowly land your lifted leg onto the floor. Turn your front foot forward and your back foot perpendicular to your shin. Straighten both legs and reach your front arm forward toward your shin or the floor.

Tree Pose.

5. Tree Pose

Tree pose challenges one-legged balance while lengthening the upper body and inner thigh. To challenge balance further, close your eyes.

How to Perform:

From triangle, bring your feet together, bend and rotate one knee away from your body. Place foot above or below your knee (or keep toes to floor to aid balance). Reach arms overhead, engage core and breathe deeply.

Elizabeth Kovar M.A. is a local Seattle fitness professional, freelance writer and workshop presenter.
Kovar has studied yoga in five different countries. Please direct questions to www.elizabethkovar.com

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