I’m off on a mountain expedition…. so what’s the deal with Yoga then?
You’ve finally done it!
You’re booked on a mountain expedition!!
This will be the trip of a lifetime.You’re off on a real adventure!
You may have booked this on a crazy impulse or it’s been living in your head for a very long time…..
Either way the idea was in there somewhere and now you’re making it a reality!
So now to prepare…
You’ve got to get equipment and specialised clothing and chances are you’re thinking about training for your expedition and to get on that fast – in order to get fit – so that you can be mountain ready.
Any cardiovascular training will help you – running, cycling, being in the gym, doing keep fit or spin classes. Swimming is also great. It’s not loading your joints (that are probably going through a lot!) & it’s also great for getting in touch with your breathing.
Of course there’s absolutely no substitute for hill walking, getting used to the equipment, the terrain, your pace, the weather and being out on the hill.
Start small and gradually make your walks longer. Walk at a sustainable pace rather than stop / starting all the time, find your rhythm.
Then not only walking on isolated days here and there ……but using up your weekends to get 2 days in a row on the hill and building from there if you can.
If you can’t navigate – find someone who can! If you’re the “black sheep” in the family and the only “odd” one who wants to walk up mountains – find a club or better still go on training weekends with professionals that are providing mountain training specifically for expeditions. I can recommend Louise Lawrence who is a fellow expedition leader and knows exactly what her clients will go through! mountaingoat.ie for more info!
So how does Yoga fit in?
Yoga has many benefits for both training for expeditions and while on expedition itself: Yoga helps you stay injury free, building your core strength, the strength in your feet, ankles & legs.
It will sharpen your mental agility, building your awareness – of your breath, your balance, your reactions, responsiveness and your focus. In turn, this leads you to be a more confident athlete- whether you like that term or not – if you’re going on an expedition there’s an athlete in there somewhere!
Yoga will increase your physical agility, your range of movement, reducing stress – including the apprehension that comes with booking on an expedition!
Whether you’re off to the Camino de Santiago, Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp or skiing the Haute Route –
Yoga has a place in your pre expedition training and while you’re on the mountain!
I’m an expedition leader – but Yoga is one of my secrets of staying supple, strong and injury free! Every night after a hard days walking on the mountains I’m in my tent doing some asanas (postures). Its works a treat! I do share this with clients who are interested – always with positive results – no one ever thinks their shoulders are going to be the problem… every one worries about their legs!
Depending on what training you’re already doing…. will dictate roughly on what type of Yoga you should practice- but it’s very simple!! It’s all going to be good for you at some level!
If you want to bring some cardiovascular Yoga into your life – choose a style like Vinyasa or Ashtanga, hot yoga or Bikram or any flow class.
However, if you are already training quite hard….. Like your out on the bike several times a week, you’re hillwalking a lot, or you’re doing a lot of running or cross training……
Now your personality will probably draw you to the types of Yoga I’ve already mentioned – From a yogic perspective – that’s a lot of Yang practice in your life which needs to be balanced & from a physical perspective this is also true and important !
Do a Hatha Yoga practice for core strength, or better still a Yin Yoga practice which has a dramatic effect on tight, sore muscles, will increase your flexibility, working with your connective tissues and fascia.
Depending on what’s going on in my life and what I need – I practice a lot of yoga styles – however Yin Yoga is what I practice while on expedition. I feel it really complements both the mind and body after a lot of leg work and it keeps me supple for the next days walking.
Practicing with awareness is really important no matter what Yoga you choose – people can get injured from Yoga too – like anything where we move our body & that would be counter productive to our expedition intentions!
Here are some postures that may help with your Expedition Preparation…..
Bear in mind : they are just names with no instruction on alignment, integrity or effort – so if you practice already – please do so with awareness and if you don’t yet practice – there’s no substitute for going to a class or workshop & you’re taught how to manage your posture from the inside out.
To strengthen your Core – Do plank / side plank ( any variation) / Warrior 3.
For your Hips – Pigeon – Be Careful with the knees here! You can do a supine version instead, if the prone version gives you any problems..
To strengthen Calves / ankles & Balance – Eagle Pose.
To strengthen Feet / Ankles / Calves & Balance – Tree Pose / Mountain Pose ( how appropriate!)
People always talk about the physical training required for an expedition and leave it at that…. That’s really is not the full story… you bring your head with you too on expedition!
Mental preparation and mental agility (or lack of) can really thwart your expedition and your experience on the mountain.
By doing Yoga you will tap into this and there’s a real benefit here.
So even if you are super fit and strong – don’t neglect this side of your training.
By bringing a Yoga practice into your life you really are covering all bases in your preparation and it’s very worthwhile endeavour.
See you on the mountain or the mat!!
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