If you consider yourself an avid hiker, you will certainly agree that trekking trails can become quite excruciating – they will not only push you to your fitness limits, they will also expose your weaknesses and muscle problems. Luckily, this physical strain is within your control, and yoga is one of the best ways to tone all those weaker body muscles that we might not even know of.
Yoga is widely acclaimed for its wonderful benefits for both our body and mind. Asanas help target weak points and build you up over time. But does yoga work for hiking too and, if so, what can you expect if you practice every day? In this article, I will share with you the amazing ways in which yoga can improve your hiking experience and how it can help you trek longer distances.
Before moving on to the benefits of yoga for hiking, I must stress that long and strenuous hiking trails will be much easier when you have a tough body and steady mind. Besides, setting up a camping hammock or a tent in the woods does require some effort too, even more so after a difficult trail. The whole trip will definitely be more enjoyable if you are fitter.
So here they are, the top 10 benefits you can expect from yoga when camping or hiking anywhere around the world.
1. Fewer injuries
Hiking may be an incredible adventure, but long and arduous trails can lead to fatigue and serious injuries. Yoga forces the body to work on these weaker muscles and tendons, thus helping reduce the risk of having to deal with sore muscles or, even worse, an injury like a sprained ankle or tendonitis while sitting in the middle of nowhere.
2. Improved lung capacity
Hills and uneven surfaces drain the air from your lungs; this will add to your current level of fatigue and tire you out much faster. Yoga improves your lung capacity and it helps to correct your breathing. It also teaches your body how to relax in stressful situations. Yoga practice is the perfect way to make those hills feel a little smaller and faster to climb.
3. Better cardiovascular health
Improving your cardiovascular health is another great benefit of yoga – it helps you avoid heart disease and sudden strokes. Both hiking and yoga increase your heart rate, but the latter features multiple moves that will increase the heart rate gradually so that there is no shock. It might be one of the strongest muscles in the body (the debate on whether or not it really is the strongest is still on), but your heart still needs to be trained.
Squeezing through the small cracks on the trail, bending over ledges, taking big steps over boulders is something that can be dangerous and lead to serious injury. If you improve the flexibility of your body, these precarious positions will be easier to pull off. Yoga comes to our rescue with multiple twists and turns that you might have never thought were possible to achieve.
5. Yoga builds strength
If you are carrying heavy weights and you need to overcome an obstacle, being strong enough makes these challenges seem much easier. Yoga puts some strain on all the muscles in the body, which means they will start developing and you will build more strength. Being stronger can also help you when doing day-to-day activities and chores around the house.
6. Yoga builds endurance
More endurance means that you are able to cover longer distances without feeling as exhausted. Asanas require holding poses for prolonged periods until your muscles are literally burning. This way, you are building endurance, and those longer trails will be a little easier to take on.
7. Better balance
If you have good balance, then climbing, overcoming exposed passages and crossing rivers will be much easier. Hiking does require a lot of core strength, which is something yoga poses work on, as you are required to contract the core muscles with each position. Just a few minutes of yoga a day are enough to give you an enhanced core strength and better balance.
8. Yoga is cheap!
Yoga is something that can be done with an incredibly low budget. The practice only needs a mat or at least a blanket. Some asanas may seem difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can practice yoga anywhere and anytime.
Even better, if you get bored on the trail (perhaps you are waiting for someone who’s lagging behind) or you simply feel like working out on the mountain, yoga can be done both indoors and outdoors. If you plan on doing some trekking and camping in winter, staying warm in a tent can be quite the challenge. Some simple yoga poses that you can do lying down or in bed will get the blood flowing to your extremities and help you get warmer.
9. Faster recovery
Faster recovery is linked to endurance, but it does not only help you when hiking and exercising outdoors. If your job requires brute strength or short bursts of energy, there are plenty of yoga poses that will help improve the muscle tissues’ ability to regenerate and repair. This is particularly handy when you are walking up and down hills and only need short bursts of energy.
10. Yoga for improved posture
If your posture is slouching and you are struggling to get rid of this, yoga can help fix this in as little as a couple of weeks. With a strong core, your spine will be able to comfortably and correctly sustain your body once again. Yoga is a great way to get rid of slouching when walking and hiking.
Have you started your yoga session yet?
Hiking is tough, but it is also a great reliever and provides joy to many eco-lovers and outdoorsmen. However, it can also prove daunting if you are not in tip-top shape. Practicing yoga on a regular basis is surely going to improve your overall health as well as your hiking trips.
For more information about outdoor activities, visit Luna’s blog at hikertrack.com!
Are you a yoga practitioner with itchy feet? Do you hate being stuck in a routine? Then an adventure yoga retreat might be just the thing for you!