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Wellness / August 24, 2015

3 Easy Yoga Poses for Hikers

Written by: Matt Minich

Sage Rountree is serious about yoga. She’s coached college athletes, Olympic trainees, and ultramarathoners. And she’s written six books on the subject, including her latest: “Everyday Yoga.”

We’re… not as serious about yoga. But we are serious about hiking. So this week, we called up Rountree and asked her what three easy yoga moves are best-suited for life in the outdoors.

On the trail: The squat

Yoga for Hikers |

The beauty of the squat is in its simplicity. It’s easy to remember (you’ve already been doing it for years), and can be busted out around camp or on the trail without need for anything but a pair of shoes.

Rountree suggests a deep squat, in which your hips drop down beneath the knees and your knees extend together over the toes. With heels against the ground, this stance will stretch your glutes and hamstrings—muscle groups that get worked on long climbs.

For a complete deep stretch, Rountree suggests holding a squat for 10 to 20 breaths.


At camp: Legs up the wall

Yoga for Hikers | Legs on Wall |

It hasn’t been lost on us (or on Rountree), that there aren’t many walls in the wilderness. But “legs up the wall” doesn’t actually require a structure—it can be done just as well with a tree, rock, or even a backpack.

The important thing, says Rountree, is that the feet stay elevated above the heart. This will drain intercellular fluid (the stuff that swells your feet and ankles after a long day), and will calm the nerves after a long day of activity. Elevating the legs to a 90-degree angle will also provide a deep hamstring stretch.

For hikers who carry a heavy pack, Rountree suggests spreading the arms wide for a chest stretch.


At day’s end: Supported back bend

Yoga for Hikers | Supported Back Bend |

Carrying a heavy pack all day isn’t just uncomfortable—it throws your whole posture out of alignment. So after you’ve spent a whole day leaning forward against the shoulder straps, it’s a good idea to spend some time stretching your spine the other way. That’s what the supported back bend is all about.

To support the back bend on the trail, Rountree suggests using a rolled up ground pad or sleeping bag placed under the mid back. Spread your arms wide for a chest stretch, and either let your legs lie straight or press the soles of your feet together so your legs form a diamond (this will stretch your hip flexors).

After a full day’s hike, Rountree suggests holding this pose for 10–15 minutes.

Want to learn more? Sage Rountree’s books, videos, and more are available at


about the author

Matt Minich

Matt Minich is Editorial Director for Shoulders of Giants. He has spent more than a decade writing, editing, and curating content about outdoor sports and adventure. As an adventure journalist he has climbed peaks in Patagonia, rappelled waterfalls in Colorado, B.A.S.E. jumped in Moab, and sampled fermented horse milk in Kyrgyzstan.

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