My husband and I spent our anniversary weekend in the Smoky Mountains, much of it doing the yoga of hiking. Hiking in the mountains puts you fully in the moment and primes you for connection—for the recognition of how much we share with our world, self and Self. Outside, it’s easy to connect with the fresh air, spectacular views, and your companions, with the birds and snakes and frogs (happily, this trip, not directly with the bears). Moving over uneven trail puts really narrows your focus to each step. Think too far ahead or get distracted and you may lose your balance. Best of all, there’s no cell signal to speak of!
Here are some yoga asanas that feel especially good on hiking muscles. Move through them for 5 to 10 breaths each on one side, then the other. Enjoy the stretch and deepen your connection with your body and breath as you take a break from your hike to appreciate the sights, smells, and sounds around you.
Baby Dancer. Stand on one leg, holding a post or tree for support if you need to. Reach for your foot and pull it toward your rear end as you stretch the front of the thigh.
Standing Pigeon. Release that foot and swing it over your standing leg. Sit back and down until you feel a pleasant stretch in the outer hip and, possibly, inner thigh. Hold the post or tree for support, or interlace your hands behind your back to stretch your chest.
Pyramid. Step forward two or three feet, squaring your hips and softening your knees a touch. Enjoy the stretch in the back of the front leg, then bend the back knee for a few more breaths to stretch the lower leg.
Squat. Bend your knees over your toes as you squat down and enjoy the release in the back, hips, thighs, and lower legs. You can squat with your knees together and facing forward, or wide and facing outward.