How Yoga Compliments Trekking

Lessons learned from Mt Kinabalu

 The Climb

Many years ago I climbed Mt Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and the island of New Guinea. At 4095m it towers over Borneo and as it rises up, it culminates in a crown of wild granite spires.  It is one of the most popular ‘bucket list’ destinations in the world.

1-Mt Kinabalu 1The ascent to base camp was exhilarating and the change in scenery every few hundred meters was spectacular. I hadn’t trained for this climb other than the occasional run or walk, and when I reached the base camp in under 4 hours, I thought I was pretty darn amazing. How I regret now, not slowing down to truly appreciate the flora, fauna, the ambiance and the iridescent sunbirds. After an early night at base camp, our group of trekkers left around 2.30am to conquer the summit – 2km’s over bare granite rock in the dark. Arriving for sunrise made every step forward totally worthwhile; I watched the cloud filled valley turn from shimmery purple tones to blue then to gold. It was breathtaking – a heavenly experience shared among strangers.

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The Descent

The descent for me was a different story, the summit was not worth every step downward. Towards the half way mark, I felt as though my legs were in caliper’s. My knees did not want to bend or take my load; the glutes, hamstrings, knees and calf muscles could step up but did not, would not, step down. I saw nothing of the scenery, I was lost in, and confused by, the pain in my legs.  I ended up way behind the back of the pack (not that I’m competitive!!!).

Pre yoga – I exercised forward motion activities and stretches, where my arms and legs moved backwards and forwards, but neglected other muscle movements, creating bad habits that lead to overuse and injury.

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A 2010 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that active stretching (where the muscle opposite the one being stretched is contracted, as is often the case in yoga poses) resulted in lasting, improved range of motion, while passive stretchers actually decreased their range of motion.

How Yoga Compliments Trekking

Yoga compliments trekking as it offers a range of diverse movements throughout the body. The extensive series of stretches prepares and protects your joints – knees, hips, spine and shoulders – from potential pain and injury. Yoga provides your muscles with a greater range of motion and more strength. It also develops strength and awareness of the core. which hugs the mid-line muscles of the body together ensuring structural and muscular alignment.

The breathing, mindfulness and meditative effects of yoga increases your awareness of the natural wonders around you. It allows you to feel the ground beneath your boots and walk in a sublime meditative state.  With the focus on the quality of the breath, the lungs open and the mind relaxes which enables you to push through any discomfort.

Our bodies are capable to achieve so much more than our minds allow us to. Yoga trains the mind to focus on the breath, to remain attentive to the sensations without stress and allows our muscles and joints to remain fluid and soft.

Reaching the end of a trek without injury can often be attributed to winning the battle of the mind. By integrating yoga, we learn how to win that battle, each breath and each step at a time.

Girls Trekking Adventures and Yoga Elixir are heading to the Queensland Great Divide for a Luxury Yoga Trek in June.  The weekend will be filled with trekking, sunrise & sunset yoga, cosy evening drinks around a campfire, gourmet meals and wine and two luxurious nights at the exclusive Spicers Canopy.  Come on and join us! Click here for more details.

For a personalised yoga program custom tailored to your needs as a trekker, please feel free to contact me. here.

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