Connecting to nature is an essential part of our daily existence. As yogis, practicing even a few minutes of asanas outside, surrounded by trees, the ocean and the sun can do wonders for our mood; it calms us down, releases anxiety, and produces an overall sense of connection to something beyond us. That’s where yoga hikes come in.
Many of us only practice in yoga studios where our feet never touch the Earth and our face never meets the sun.
However, yoga hikes have become increasingly popular, combining hiking, a yoga class and many times a connection to nature. Some yoga hikes allow yogis to hike to a specific destination where a full hour class is taught outdoors, while other hikes stop in a number of places throughout the trail to practice a certain pose. Whether it’s Eagle on a vista or Tree alongside a towering oak, the purpose of a Yoga Hike is to bring your practice outdoors.
As the leaves begin to turn color, there’s no better time to explore some of our state’s beautiful trails and, while you’re there, practice some nature-inspired asanas. Whether you choose to go solo or bring some friends, practice in a meadow or on the beach, or just feel inspired to go into Triangle after witnessing a geometric leaf fall to the ground, taking a yoga hike helps you be a part of Mother Nature’s perfect imperfection. Here are the poses we recommend practicing during yoga hikes.
Tadasana, Mountain Pose
Standing tall, find a place where you can plant your two feet firmly into the ground. If you want to take off your shoes, this may be the pose to do it in! Feel your feet ground down into the Earth, whether it’s the dirt or the sand between your toes (or shoes), imagine that it’s fully supporting your weight. Feel the strength in your legs as you pull up through your knee caps and your thighs, relaxing your tailbone down while engaging your core.
Roll your shoulders up to your ears, then back down your spine. Feel the chest widen. Activate down through your arms, all the way to your fingertips. Feel as though someone is lengthening your spine, from the crown of your head to your tailbone. Keep the eyes soft and breathe in the fresh air, while noticing the smells around you.
Vriksasana, Tree Pose
Standing next to an impressive tree, begin to ground down through your right foot, imagining roots stemming from the sole of your foot into the Earth, just like the tree. Bring your left toes to the earth, to your inner calf, or your inner thigh as you bring your hands to the trunk of the tree. Notice the strength of the tree’s roots and its trunk, as you try to harness that same power, bringing it up through your foot, leg, chest, arms and head. Breathe here for a few minutes, then repeat on the other side.
Ardha Hanumanasana, Half Split Pose
Find a tree on the ground or a step about knee height and place your right foot on it. Begin to bend your left leg so that you can lean slightly forward over your right leg. Flex through your right foot, keeping the knee soft. Frame your right leg with both hands as you begin to fold over your leg, feeling the lengthening of the hamstring muscle. Use your breath to keep the spine long on the inhale and fold deeper on the exhale. Repeat on the other side.
Utkatasana, Chair Pose
Standing with your back and heels about 1-1 ½ feet away from the trunk of a tree, begin to sit down into an imaginary chair, using the tree as your back support. Send the weight to the heels of your feet as you engage your thighs and core. You can send your arms overhead, out in front of you, or leave them at your sides. Breathe here for at least 5 breaths and end with a forward fold.
Kumbhakasana, Plank Pose
Place your hands on a large rock, tree or really anything that’s sturdy and elevated off the ground. Spread your fingers wide and grip the object. Notice whether it’s smooth, rough or if there is a bug walking around. Then begin to walk your feet away from you as you straighten your body. Aim for one long line from your head to your toes as you engage your core. Push through your heels. Feel the strength in your own body as well as the object beneath you. Breathe here for five breaths.
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Hero (Top) Feature Image: © SergeyCash / Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Melissa Beveridge / Best of NJ