Yoga builds strength in the body and resilience in the mind and even the practice of by simply taking deep breaths allows us to de-stress. So why not incorporate a bit of yoga to your fitness regime in the lead up to your trek?
“In preparation for a trek, I would be building strength in the legs and mental resilience for the days at altitude, when you need to push your body and mind to take one more step,” suggests yoga and well-being instructor, Nicolette Onsley from Sydney’s Happy Living Project.
Nikki shares three yoga stretches and breathing techniques for travellers to prep their minds and bodies for an introductory to moderate trek.
1. Warrior II
“Warriors are fierce and strong and the yoga Warrior poses are great to open hips and strengthen legs. The Warrior II and is one of the most accessible warrior poses and will suit all levels.”
How to do it: To bring your focus to the pose, begin by taking three long slow breaths – in through the nose and out through the nose. As your internal fire starts to build, step out the front leg on an inhale and bend the knee; turn your back foot quarter way to the front and turn your torso to the side. Come deeper into the pose on an exhale and do this for a total of 6-8 breaths, trying to make the back of the thigh parallel to the earth.
Points of position:
– Magnetise the heels to the midline
– Front bent knee in line with the toes
– Chest faces the side
– Strong but relaxed arms at shoulder height
2. Crescent Lunge
“Crescent lunge is another great one for preparing the quadriceps while also opening the hip flexors and supporting the back with core engagement.”
“Crescent lunge and Warrior postures are deep powerful poses that we use to focus our mind and build resilience, especially as the legs heat up from support the weight. We use our long, slow breaths to breathe through any big sensations and push past our own boundaries.”
How to do it: Have your feet hip width apart. Take a big step out and ground the ball of your back foot with your heel lifted. Raise your arms straight up in line with your torso. Your energy should be driving up from the pelvis, through the crown and through the arms. Make sure your shoulder blades melt down the spine. This lunge may challenge your balance a little. Hold this pose for 5 breaths statically.
3. Locust Pose
“I would then want to start to work on the mid back muscles, because even carrying a light day pack for over a week when we mostly sit will feel different. I recommend Locust pose, which is a baby back bend which enlivens the body.”
“This is perfect for corporate workers and new mothers, who spend a lot of time with the upper spine curved forward over, this posture strengthens core and mid back, as well as opens the chest.”
How to do it: Start by laying on the ground with arms by your side, with your toes pressing into the ground and gently tuck the tailbone under. Hollow out the belly and firm up your thighs, then start to squeeze the shoulder blades together, as you raise your chest off the ground. For a more advanced pose, lift your feet and stretch your arms out in front.
Yoga is not just about building strength, says Nikki; for her, it’s a lifestyle. By practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing (pranayama), you can build a deeper relationship with yourself.
“To me, it is the perfect pair with a hike in the outdoors – it encourages the observation of nature and beauty all around. To appreciate the simple moments.”
Want to practice yoga and hike in the shadow of the world’s mightiest peaks? Nicolette will be leading a Himalayan Hike & Yoga Project in April 2019, where she’ll offer plenty of mindfulness techniques, teach meditation and pranayama, as you trek in the stunning Annapurna and Dhaulagiri region of Nepal. Find out more >