There’s no better way to savor the warmer months than to spend an afternoon out on the trails. Whether you’re hiking through the mountains or taking a casual stroll through your local park, spending time outside is essential to clear your mind and rejuvenate your body.
However, taking that afternoon hike doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the relaxation you get from your afternoon yoga class. With “Hiking Yoga,” you can find your zen on any hiking trail, no yoga mat needed!
Hiking Yoga was started by Eric Kipp, who began by leading Hiking Yoga adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now the trend is taking off all over the country, and whether you sign up for a class or do it on your own, it is bound to be an incredible experience. Here are some of the unique benefits of Hiking Yoga that make it a must-try summer adventure!
1. Mix of cardio and flexibility One of the main benefits of Hiking Yoga is its unique blend of cardio and flexibility. Hiking Yoga blends the two, giving you a full body workout while also improving your breathing and flexibility. It is the ultimate multi-tasking exercise, helping those who often opt for slow flow yoga classes to increase their heart rate and for hikers who normally just hop on the trail to slow down and focus their energy inward.
2. Feel more connected to nature While practicing yoga in the studio is great, nothing compares to exercising outdoors and being able to breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun’s rays radiating on your back and listen to the soft rustling sound of leaves. Hiking has been proven to relieve stress, insomnia and even make you feel more fulfilled, all things that make a huge difference in your mental health. Extended periods outside can help you be more connected to your natural rhythms, so combined with the body awareness and breathing stability of yoga, your body and mind will be rejuvenated like never before.
3.No mat necessary While some hiking yoga excursions involve bringing a mat along, it is often a fun opportunity to try some great standing poses that can be done on the forest floor. As you hike, look for either a grassy open field or a clear section of the forest that is flat enough for standing poses. Start a rotation between poses such as Eagle, Standing Forward Bend, Chair Pose, Triangle Pose and Warrior II. By allowing your body to sink deep into the earth as you find your balance, you’ll feel a strong connection to nature that you don’t often get with studio yoga.
4. Challenge yourself Relaxing your body and steadying your breathing outside the yoga studio is harder than it seems. If you are practicing Hiking Yoga in Central Park, you could have to work through the sounds of nearby cars, barking dogs or people chatting on their leisurely stroll.
Even if you’re taking your hike to a nature preserve, you still have natural elements such as wind, blaring sun and the occasional screeching sounds of birds that can make it hard to get focused. This, in combination with the element of uneven ground, makes Hiking Yoga a challenging yet rewarding experience. Finding a way to block out all of those distractions and focus solely on your breathing, your balance and your pose, will make you a better yogi.