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9 Yoga Poses Hikers Should Practice Before Hitting the Trail

Jessie Benson
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Warm weather and clear blue skies call for outdoor adventures. Next time you’re deciding between hiking and going to yoga, take your yoga practice to the trails! Incorporate these yoga poses into your next hike to warm up your body and prepare it for a safe and successful journey on the trails.
 
If you’ve taken an outdoor yoga class, you know there’s something magical about practicing yoga outside, surrounded by nature. Studies show that spending more time in nature can help us recover from illness and injury and cope with stress, among other benefits.
 
By adding these simple yoga poses into your hiking routine, you can reduce your risk of injury and prevent muscle soreness.
 
Learn more about preventing injuries by reading 5 Ways to Avoid Injury During Yoga
 

Here are 10 yoga poses you should practice before a hike to warm up and keep your body safe while hiking:

Common hiking injuries can be easily prevented with a proper warm up. Doing a few yoga poses before your hike will warm up your body and loosen your muscles, as well as increase circulation, heart rate, flexibility and overall performance. Try these yoga poses before hitting the trails.
 

1. Standing Forward Fold

Practicing Standing Forward Fold before you start hiking will wake up your hamstrings and clear your mind for the work that lies ahead.
 
forwardfold
 
Let’s Try It:

  • From Standing Mountain Pose, bring your hands to your hips
  • Bend forward at the hips and allow your chest to drop towards your thighs
  • Bend your knees as much as needed and keep your spine long
  • Lift your sitting bones toward the sky and allow hands to come to the ground, or clasp your hands around opposite elbows
  • Let your head hang between your arms
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths

 
 

2. Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog is great for stretching out those amazing (and probably really tight!) calves you’ll get from hiking.
 
down-dog
 
Let’s Try It:

  • Start on all fours in Tabletop Pose
  • Plant your palms, tuck your toes, and lift your hips up and back into Down Dog
  • Roll your shoulders away from your ears and lift your tailbone skyward
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths

 
Need a little Downward Dog alignment refresher? Check out this quick Down Dog tutorial video
 

3. Low Lunge

Your hip flexors work hard to support every step you take while hiking. Low Lunge is a fantastic stretch to release them.
 
lowlunge
 
Let’s Try It:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, lift your right leg skyward
  • Step your right foot in between your hands
  • Gently place your left knee on the ground and interlace your fingers on top of your right thigh
  • Gently press your hips forward, ensuring your right knee does not go over your ankle
  • Hold for 8-10 breaths on each side

 
 

4. Half Splits

Half Split Pose stretches the thighs, hamstrings, and groin. It’s great for hikers who tend to hold tightness in the legs.
 
halfsplit2
 
Let’s Try It:

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog and step your right foot forward between your hands to Low Lunge
  • Lower down onto your left knee and un-tuck the left toes so that top of foot is flat on the ground
  • Flex your right foot and lift your toes towards your body
  • Begin to straighten your right leg as much as you comfortably can. Keep your hips square and stacked over your left knee
  • Lengthen your spine and fold over your right leg
  • Hold the pose on each side for 5-10 breaths

 

 

5. Pyramid Pose

This pose is great for stretching your hamstrings and calves, which in turn helps relieve any tightness that can build up while you’re hiking.
 
Pyramid
 
Let’s Try It:

  • Start in Standing Mountain Pose
  • Step your left foot back about 3 feet and angle your left toes about 45 degrees
  • Inhale to reach your arms over your head
  • Keep your hips facing forward as you hinge at the hips to slowly fold forward over your right leg
  • Allow your hands to drop towards the ground, resting softly on your thigh or shin
  • Relax your forehead towards your front knee and bend into this knee as much as needed
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths and repeat on side 2

 
 

6. Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold (With Shoulder Stretch)

This Forward Fold variation is a fantastic way to stretch your hamstrings, calves, and glutes before hiking. The optional arm variation opens up your back, chest, and shoulders. This is especially important if you plan on carrying a backpack.
 
widelegFF
 
Let’s Try It:

  • Start in Mountain Pose and extend your arms straight out to the side
  • Next, step your feet to the width of your arms and rotate your toes slightly in and heels out
  • Interlace your fingers together behind you (if this isn’t happening today, skip the arm bind)
  • Breathe in and lift your chest up towards the sky
  • As you exhale, fold forward keeping your hands clasped together
  • Hold for 8-10 breaths

 
 

7. Standing Figure Four

This pose targets the large muscle groups around the hips and glutes that tend to tighten up while hiking. If you feel wobbly, hold on to a stable surface (like a nearby tree).
 
figurefour
 
Let’s Try It:

  • From Standing Mountain Pose, cross your right ankle over your left knee to create a figure four shape with your legs
  • Keep your floating foot flexed to prevent injury to your knee joint
  • Push your hips back and bend your left knee slightly as you sit back as if sitting in a chair
  • Keep your chest open and spine straight, and notice the stretch through the right side of your hip
  • Hold for 10 breaths on each side

 
Have sensitive knees, or looking for yoga poses that can strengthen and help protect your knee joint? Read about these 10 Yoga Poses to Relieve Knee Pain
 

8. Jiva Squats

Jiva squats are a great way to wake up your muscles before your hike while also strengthening your glutes.
 
jivasquat1
 
Let’s Try It:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, step your right leg forward into Low Lunge
  • Plant your hands in front of your foot and lift your left leg up into the air (like Warrior 3 or Airplane legs)
  • Inhale to extend both of your legs and on an exhale bend both knees and tuck your left knee behind your right, keeping the right heel down
  • Repeat 5-10 times on each side

 
 

9. Dancer Pose

This pose will provide a great stretch for the quads and improve your balance for more technical hiking routes. Option to place one hand on something stable, like a tree or your car.
 
dancer-pose
 
Let’s Try It:

  • Start from Standing Mountain Pose and extend your left hand to the sky and drop your right hand by your hip
  • Bend your right knee, kicking heel towards your glute and catch the inner ankle with your right hand
  • Keep your left knee soft and begin to press your right foot into your right hand to deepen the stretch in your quadriceps
  • For an extra balance challenge, hinge your hips and chest forward as you continue to press your foot back
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

Mix Yoga with Hiking to Keep Your Time on the Trail Safe and Fun

 
Whether you’re hiking one or ten miles, incorporating these yoga poses into your hiking routine will help prevent injury and increase your performance on the trail. The best part? After your hike you can return to poses 1-6 in this sequence to cool down and keep your body from tightening up after your workout.
 
What are you waiting for? Pack your backpack, fill up your CamelBak, dig out your hiking boots, and let’s hit the trail.
 

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Jessie Benson

Jessie Benson is the founder and creator of FloYo®. Jessie combines her passion for yoga with her love of the outdoors, experience competing in triathlons and intensity of teaching spin classes to create a challenging core workout on a standup paddleboard with her FloYo fitness classes. Jessie is a sponsored SUP racer with Yolo Board and a master trainer for the Academy of Surfing Instructors and leads FloYo Teacher Trainings around the globe.

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