WHEN YOU'RE GOOD AND READY: PRE-SEASON YOGA WITH KAT ENGLISHMAN
The best and the worst part about hiking, backpacking, and traversing across rocky, untamed ground is the instability and challenge of navigating an uneven surface. In our everyday life, sidewalks and pathways are smoothed over to make walking easy. There aren’t very many obstacles that hinder us on our leisurely strolls — nothing to really force us out of our comfort zone, no roots to dodge, or boulders to leap over, and I suspect that a large part of our desire to go for long (sometimes grueling) walks with heavy packs is to seek out the challenges that are missing from the monotony of our flat and predictable daily walks around the neighborhood. Or is that just me?
As you may or may not already know, a healthy amount of stress here and there is a really, really good thing. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys going outside and grinding it out, then you’ve already gotten a taste of your own body and brain’s penchant for overcoming an obstacle and the innate satisfaction of seeing how much you’ve grown after doing something stressful or hard.
So, when it comes to utilizing yoga during pre-season workouts, a little challenge goes a very long way. In this brief practice, we’re focusing primarily on building up strength and stability in the legs and core. This way, when it comes time to get back outside and do your favorite hard activities (lol ‘cause that’s an actual thing), our joints, tissues, and balancing systems will be prepped and primed for the demands you place on them.
Here’s a couple of tips to stay strong and balanced in your yoga practice and outdoor pursuits:
– Try to hug your inner thighs towards each other to create stabilizing energy in the pelvis. Those muscles have a large impact on your movement and gait, so it’s good to keep them strong and mobile.
– Engage your glutes by firmly pressing down through the heel (in chair pose and high lunge, when the back knee is lifted, you can even squeeze it!). Strong glutes will give you more power when you’re taking big steps and going uphill.
– Bear in mind that a strong back is just as important as a strong core — you can think of them as two sides of the same coin. In this sequence, we’re placing demand on the front and back of our core by extending the arms up and overhead. If you’re still working on building up strength, keep your hands together at your heart or place them on the hips, and try to keep the spine long as you draw the low ribs towards each other.
Of course, there’s a nice stretch here and there because what would yoga be if you didn’t make some space?
See you on the mat!
Katherine Englishman is a writer and yoga teacher based in the beautiful state of Maine. You can find her outside skiing, hiking, biking, or teaching yoga and meditation for the modern yoga student at Waypoints Yoga