Hiking and yoga may not seem immediately related, but they indeed have many wonderful things in common.  Both allow you to set your foundation and carry out balance in motion through a progression of elevation and return.  Both force you to breathe in more profound ways than you might ordinarily.  Both can connect you to the earth below your feet in a more literally grounded way, getting you out of your own head.  Both can do wonders for your health and constitution, in direct and indirect ways.

Remembering to Breathe


In yoga, you are reminded to take deep breaths at some specific pacing.  Often, the pattern and method of breaths can come from time-honored varieties of disciplined breath techniques.  We call this pranayama (yogic breath), and there are simple and complex varieties.  Even “simple” techniques yield profound results for practitioners.  As yogis understand, there is breathing, and then there is breathing; and the difference can be one of several hallmarks of an awakened and energized spirit. 

Pranayama is certainly handy on the yoga mat, but it is also very beneficial when utilized for hiking.  The air quality on a trail is often a degree closer to purity by the standards of everyday life, and mindful ways of absorbing such clean air efficiently is invaluable, and can sustain our efforts toward longer and better hikes.

Deep Breaths, Now Even Deeper

With or without special breathing techniques, walking in elevated environments is a chance to be saturated in rich natural oxygen outdoors.  You can’t help but take breaths that are deeper by default, as the air quality is considerably less stale and polluted.  The steady pace of a climb will open up your lungs and blood vessels, allowing your entire body to engage, getting you from point A to point B.  

Many of us assume a more deliberate (or quasi-athletic) breathing pattern while hiking.  However, practicing yogic breath techniques while climbing can combine two very profound breathing experiences at the same time.  Whether your goal is spiritual or athletic, you’ll inevitably reap the rewards of both if you’re open to the experience.  They each enrich the efforts of the other; a sound mind/spirit in a sound body, breathing well and deeply.

This is all part of several reasons why so many legendary yogis and yoginis have chosen to do their practice high in the mountains.  Self-exile and hermit lifestyle aside, it can be one of the most powerful breath-work environments imaginable with beautiful backdrops to boot.  Even the Hindu deity Shiva (often regarded as the first yogi) chose to go to the highest heights, literally, to attain the highest heights, spiritually.  We can get a tiny piece of that while hiking; and at least do a pose or three.  And we don’t have to be hermits.  Or mythological deities, for that matter.   

Poses to prepare for the Hike:

Poses while on the hike:

Interested in hiking with Thrive?

Couple’s Retreats and Workshops in hike-friendly locales, so be on the lookout for these upcoming events!  After such training, you can take practices with you to sharpen your ability to savor a gorgeous hike and enjoy the experience with a distinctly yogic layer.

Post Author: Matt Murphy

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