Training For a Long Hike: Yoga

As I begin my training schedule for the JMT, I thought I’d post a little about what I’m doing physically to prepare my body for hiking more than a week at high altitudes.  I personally have to do a little more strenuous training because I live at 3,000 feet and there is very little in my state of Arizona that goes above 10,000 feet.  It can be found up in Flagstaff and that works for a weekend, but not for the daily training a hike of this nature really requires.  So I try to come up with a training regimen that helps me get ready for altitude as well as hiking daily.  I’ll be posting the different things I do over the next few weeks, starting today with my yoga training.

The muscle groups that are essential to long distance hiking are the core and leg muscles.  The muscles that are essential to carrying a pack are upper arm, shoulder and back muscles.  That makes training with any one type of exercise hard.  One of the best disciplines I think a hiker can do to target their core, back, legs and arms while also improving balance, circulation and breathing is yoga.  Yoga may seem like a crazy exercise fad that is sweeping the country, but it is the cheapest and best way to get the body ready for almost anything.  It even improves my sleep and keeps me from becoming as stiff when I find sleeping on the ground is unavoidable.

1. Breathing

The right breathing technique and the ability to control your breathing is essential to a good yoga routine and can’t be finagled or fudged at all.  It’s not all about just breathing slowly either.  I get my heart rate up and get breathing pretty hard depending on what I’m doing in yoga, but I’m always in control of each breath.  The first thing to learn is the way every human is supposed to breathe.  When I was a kid I used to breathe the worst way a person can; by lifting my shoulders.  This expands the chest and does allow air in, but it increases your chances of injury, especially if you’re carrying a backpack.  Anyone who plays a wind instrument (or took singing lessons), like I did in middle school, will have learned that the best way to breathe is to push out your stomach and allow your diaphragm to do the work instead of you back and shoulders.  Sure, this is not the most visually flattering way, but it will help you get a deeper breath and prevent injury to your back and shoulders.

When you are trying to lower your heart rate, a good way to begin or end any yoga routine as well as any meditation, you want to slowly take the deepest breath you can and hold it for about 5-10 seconds.  Then slowly push all the air out of your lungs and hold that for 5-10 seconds.  You can actually feel yourself slip into an almost sleep like state.  What I’ve found is doing this for about 30 seconds to a minute at the beginning of my day helps my muscles loosen up which makes my day better and my muscles ready to engage in what I’m asking them to do.  I’ll do this for about 5-10 minutes just before bed and I sleep so much better.  I personally take this time to get my prayers in because I am focused on nothing else.

2. Transitions

One of the other important things to do slowly and steadily is the transitions between positions.  Just like when you work with weights or other strength training exercises, flopping or collapsing can cause injury, so it’s important to move at a steady pace from one position to the next.  While you do want to push your muscles a little bit harder every day, if you don’t have enough gas in your tank left to release your muscles and move into the next position, you’re going to increase you chance or really hurting yourself.  This is where the steady control of your breathing can really help as well.  It helps focus your mind and gives you a good pace with which to move without hurting yourself.

3. Positions for Beginners in Order

With each position you really want to try to focus on stretching or engaging whatever muscle group that position is targeting.  When I’m stretching, I like to lift out of the stretch slightly when breathing in and then go into the stretch a little further than the breath before it while breathing out.  When I’ve stretched as far as I can stand, I hold it for at least one full breath or more.  When I’m engaging muscles, like you would for a plank, I try to slow my breathing and not huff and puff as much.

1. Lotus Position – 30 seconds

Lotus-Yoga-Pose.JPG

 

2. Butterfly Pose – 30 seconds

Butterfly-Yoga-Pose-Yoga-Poses-for-Beginners.jpg

 

3. Seated Two Leg Forward Bend – 30 seconds

Seated-Two-Leg-Forward-Bend-Yoga-Pose-Yoga-Poses-for-Beginners.jpg

 

4. Seated One Leg Forward Bend – 15 seconds per leg

Seated-One-Leg-Forward-Bend-Yoga-Pose-Yoga-Poses-for-Beginners.jpg

 

5. Boat Pose – 20 seconds

Boat-Pose-feature.jpg

 

6. Corpse Pose – 10 seconds

Corpse.JPG

7. Happy Baby – 10 seconds

Happy-Baby-Yoga-Pose.JPG

 

8. Half Happy Baby – 10 seconds each side

Half-Happy-Baby.JPG

 

9. Reclining Knee to Shoulder – 15 seconds each side

reclining-knee-shoulder.JPG

 

10. Reclining Half Ankle to Knee Pose – 15 seconds each side

Reclining-Half-Ankle-Knee-Yoga-Poses.jpg

 

11. Reclining Eagle Twist – 15 seconds each side

Reclining-Eagle-Twist.JPG

At this point I roll onto my stomach

12. Cat Pose – 10 seconds

cat-pose.jpg

13. Cow Pose – 10 seconds

Cow-Yoga-Pose.JPG

 

14. Plank Pose – 10 seconds (to begin with work up to 30)

Plank-Yoga-Pose-Yoga-Poses-for-Beginners.jpg

 

15. Side Plank Pose – 10 seconds each side

Side-Plank-Yoga-Pose-Yoga-Poses-for-Beginners.jpg

 

16. Upward Facing Dog Pose – 15 seconds

Upward-Facing-Dog-Yoga-Pose-FEATURE.jpg

 

17. Cobra Pose – 15 seconds

Cobra-Yoga-Pose.JPG

It’s easy to roll your hips up as you extend your elbows to transition from Cobra to Downward Dog!

18. Downward Dog Pose – 15 seconds (working up to 30 seconds)

Downward-Facing-Dog-Yoga-Pose-TEST.jpg

 

19.Warrior I Pose – 15 seconds each side

Warrior-1-NEW-feature.jpg

 

20. Warrior II Pose – 15 seconds each side

Warrior-11-NEW-feature.jpg

 

21. High Lunge – 15 seconds each side

New-High-Lunge-Yoga-Pose-Feature.JPG

 

22. Low Lunge – 10 seconds each side (drop into Lizard Pose before switching to the next side)LowLunge-Yoga-Pose-FEATURE.jpg

 

23. Lizard Pose – 10 seconds each side

Lizard-Yoga-Pose-FEATURE.jpg

 

24 Eagle Pose – 10 seconds each side

Eagle-Yoga-Pose-FEATURE.jpg

 

25. Chair Pose – 15 seconds

Chair-Yoga-Pose-FEATURE.jpg

 

26. – 50. This Sun Salutation sequence.

The whole thing takes between 20-30 minutes depending on how long each pose is held and the length of your transitions and I usually play some relaxing music while I go through these positions.  My playlist is music I consider to be my favorite worship music, mostly consisting of very old Jennifer Knapp and Jars of Clay with some Mumford and Sons thrown in, but you can pick whatever relaxes you.  I do this every morning and will be continuing to start my day off with my yoga on trail.  If you try this just once, I guarantee you will be able to tell just why yoga will make you a better hiker and athlete in general.

I like to add in this series of positions as well if I have time or at the end of my hiking for the day but before I sit down and get stiff.  It’s a great 5 minutes of stretches to do during hiking breaks as well.

All of the pictures used here are from Mind Body Green.  Please check them out!  They have the best collection of yoga and natural fitness pages I’ve come across.  If you are confused on any position or want to find some more challenging positions to try, check out their yoga for beginners page.  It’s got everything from the basics posted here to some really difficult stuff that I wish I could do!

 

Advertisements

About Joslyn

My name is Joslyn and I primarily hike with my husband Richard. We live in Northern Arizona with our dog, Jäger and love camping and hiking. We are continuing our adventure in backpacking inn this our second year and as always, striving towards going Ultra Light.

Posted on 25/03/2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey! I found your blog through the Ladies of the JMT group. Just wanted to say hi! I used to do yoga, but fell off of the wagon a few years ago. I think you’ve inspired me to try it again, as I need to start mixing up my regular training routine.

    Rock on, and happy hiking!r

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

ASMR University

The Art & Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

Lady Light Travel

Women's travel with a single carry on. Tutorials, packing tips & techniques, clothing ideas, and more!

What A Ride

Navigating the peaks and valleys of this crazy, beautiful life

Adventure with The Triumphant Trio

Oh the places we will go

The Matt Walsh Blog

Absolute Truths (and alpaca grooming tips)

UL Gear Blog

- ultralight backpacking gear reviews

Appalachian Trail Girl

A How-To for Hiker Girls

eastwestfarm

After 4 plus years of leasing a small house on a patch of land 20 miles outside of Atlanta, we moved 80 miles to our Forever homestead.

Home Yoga Practice

Practicing svadhyaya by reflecting on learnings in yoga class

Throwback at Trapper Creek

An ongoing chronicle of meeting the expectations of the land...

GearToons

Hiking gear reviews for hikers with short attention spans.

jearsblog

"In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you." Leo Tolstoy

Katesurfs.com

Natural Parenting Blog

twogearguys

A fun look at todays best hiking gear.

GreenPackin'

When BackPackin' go GreenPackin'

Intentionally Small

exploring small spaces and simple living

Hiking Acorn

Tales of Blisters and Bears

Loneoaks Ramblings

On going Hiking Adventures

Paddle In

New Journeys, Old Traditions

Catalyst Strength & Wellness

Strength Begins With Breaking

CouchtoCDT

Hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Northbound in 2013- sharing my preparation for the hike and my day to day experience while I'm on the trail. Inspiring people to follow their dreams.

smackpacker.com

ultralight backpacking gear reviews, trail reports, wisdom and smack

Esoteric Hyperbole

Musings, Rants, Ponderings

living extraordinary small

compact living with responsible design

The Lazy Homesteader

The latest dirt from the Schell Urban Homestead

My Charming Beauty

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

Makais Blog

Sports + Outdoors

Randy's Outside Blog

Let's Go Hiking

Off the Couch and On the Trail

Preparing for Our 2013 AT Thru-Hike

HikeLighter.Com

"sub 2268 hiking" ~ John Abela

Camp Smarts

Life in the outdoors

paulaslongwalk

Just another WordPress.com site

Imagine It's Finished

Ramblings of a Frustrated Overachiever

patagonian dreams

live your dream, share your passion

grizanderson

...from the middle of nowhere

The Not So Empty Nest...

join me in my transition

Bedrock & Paradox

I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a non-human world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.

Fat Man of the Mountains

Combining three favorite pastimes: writing, hiking and running, slowly.

Minimalist Meg

one Megan on a mission.

Fat Eagle Scout

A journey into shape and back outdoors

Wilderness Backpacking Blog

A guide to backpacking in the wilderness

Not Molly

Rebelling in Very Small Ways

%d bloggers like this: