Hey hikers! We often get questions surrounding our BGH x Yoga events with Hike For Health and thought to give you some insight on why we host these events and some of the benefits of yoga.
First, if you've ever attended a Black Girls Hike event, you know that we are hitting trails with some inclines and getting a workout in! On average, a person burns between 700-800 calories during a 4 mile hike and a trail can range between 200-700ft elevation change at any given moment. While there are many benefits to being outdoors, it's important to take care of your body to help it recover and reduce the risk of soreness or injury after a hike.
You don't have to be in great shape to go for a hike. You can go as slow or as fast as you want; there is not a right or wrong pace. But the hikers who get in shape before they hit the trail typically enjoy it more and have the option of going further and reaching the summit of mountains to see some of the most amazing views. There is a big difference between feeling good while climbing up a big hill versus needing to stop every few steps to catch your breath.
Increasing strength is a great thing to do for your hiking adventures. Hiking takes a lot of endurance and stamina and focuses a lot on lower body movement that can be compared to yoga movements and other activities. For example, balancing on a fallen log across a stream is similar to the Warrior II yoga position or pulling yourself up a rock scramble is similar to a pull up in the gym. Increasing flexibility is also a key component of becoming a hiker or backpacker. Flexibility can help you when you are stepping over large rocks or climbing over fallen trees. The more comfortable your body can twist and turn, the less likely it is to get hurt. Learning yoga and incorporating a few positions into your daily routine is a great way to become more flexible and practice deep breathing before hitting the trails.
Some of the key benefits of yoga include:
Builds full body strength
Building strength doesn't have to be done solely through gym workouts or strength training. Using your own body weight as resistance is a form of resistance training and can be a great way to build strength across your entire body. Yoga positions such as "Warrior I" and "Side Angle Pose" adds flexibility to your core and strengthens your leg muscle. "Downward-facing Dog" is great for stretching out tired hiking legs and keeping your glutes and hamstrings (butt and thighs) loose and preventing tightness.
Yoga regulates your nervous system response
If you're not ready to jump into the full flow of things, at its core, yoga is about breathing and connecting your mind to your body. Breathing is an important part of any yoga practice. Learning how to breathe properly is an extremely important practice because it creates a heathy foundation to build a physical practice that is grounding and nourishing. Knowing how to control your breath would help you tremendously when hiking up inclines and rock scrambles. By connecting your breath with your body, you should see an increase in flexibility and strength.
Yoga can be made suitable for all skill levels
Yoga can be scaled for different skills levels. Whether you're looking for yoga for beginners or something more advanced, there is something for everyone. 'Sun-Salutations" are beginner friendly and stimulate your cardiovascular system for a full body workout.
Yoga improves balance
Balance is important because it helps us to align ourselves, strengthen and lengthen our muscles, and to explore our center of gravity. Yoga creates balance through a union of mind and body. The most common balance building pose in yoga is 'Tree Pose'.
Yoga has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, as well as reduce symptoms of insomnia.
Certain yoga poses can help to improve digestion and relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating and constipation.
Overall, practicing yoga on a regular basis can have numerous physical and mental health benefits, and can help to promote overall wellness and a sense of calm and balance in daily life. Join us at our next BGH x Yoga event to a guided practice!
Until next time, happy hiking!