Travelers have a species of their own and backpackers are the most evolved of the whole lot. To begin with, backpackers got to be tough. Come hail or high water, they do not give in. Adapting to the harshest of climates, dealing with unforeseen dangers leaping from the shadows, swimming against the tide if need be—that’s what it takes to be a backpacker. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but if you have heard the hills calling your name and finished packing your little bundle, it is time to set out!
Besides checking climbing poles, spiked boots, light-load knapsacks with adjustable straps, pen knife and all of those little things your instructor told you, make sure to power up with yoga. Yoga is such a routine that empowers from within and cuts down your dependency on external instruments for support. With improved balance and enhanced stamina, you may even conquer the world’s mightiest peaks!
Here are four yoga postures for you to practice before and in between treks, that will help you stay tough, footloose and free in the wild:
Wake Up with Sun Salutation
A backpacker may wake up anywhere—on a beach buried in sand and gulls crying in the ear, in a crowded station waiting room or amidst whispering trees in a forest. There is never any telling whether it will be stifling hot or bone chilling cold, whether there will be food or water or even a proper bathroom. To wake up in good spirits amidst such unpredictability and to continue the day with the same, begin it with a Sun Salutation.
The Sun Salutation is a series of 12 postures targeting flow of energy at different parts of the body. The upward salute with which it begins relaxes the arms and opens the chest. If you have been sleeping in a slouched position for too long, this is how to get back the blood flowing normally. A forward bend working on the hips will follow, continued with plank pose and an up-dog. Face the light while performing this and make sure to perform the whole act in reverse for better effect.
Joint Opening Low Lunge
The low lunge is a knee-bender and a hip-flexor all at the same time. The posture demands you to move your body forward with one limb stretched at the back and the other bent in the front. It is complete in addressing all those joints which are subject to stiffness due to excessive exhaustion and staying for hours on end in uncanny positions within small crammed spaces during journeys.
Try the low lunge routine the moment you get off a long-hauled bus ride. Don’t care about who’s watching. Put down your bags and start lunging low.
Hip Flexing Pigeon Pose
This one is going to be a bit of work and applies for the strong-willed only. The pigeon impression is made by flexing one leg around the hip in the front and similarly another from the back. The posture features in this list mostly owing to its psychological impact.
The posture is known to act on the lower-most chakras of the body, the seat of repressed emotions and fears. Before starting out on a backpacking mission, there is a lot to let go. You don’t know when you will be coming home again. All the things held close to your heart will exert a force that holds you back. As you strain the legs around your own core, throw your arms in the air. Take in deep breaths. Remember you are a free soul – grounded firmly to the earth’s floor and yet, free.
Tree Posture for Right Calibration
The tree is another symbol of grounded wisdom which you must reflect in your strengthening practices. It’s a wild world out there which you must survive. Your strength is going to be as much about agility when it’s time for action as about preserved energy. Just as you need to stock water and food on your travels for dire times, build a store of energy inside.
Root yourself to the ground on one leg. Keep firm, keeping support with another. Hold your hands high in the air, signifying freedom. Stay this way for a long time, breathing in life from all around you and preserving the spirit inside.
It is time you free yourself from the journey-cramps with regular yoga practice, for, there’s a whole world out there to conquer!