Namasté & Om Shanti on the mountain
YOGA, the philosophical teaching from India, which most of us have heard or read about. Contorted gym exercises on a mat and some stretching – outsiders often describe yoga as a current trend.
However, yoga is so much more. Yoga doesn’t do your body some good – the combination of breathing exercises, physical exercises and meditation balances you and has a holistic effect. More and more sports enthusiasts appreciate the Indian teaching and incorporate yoga into their daily routine or practice between training sessions. The strain of repeat movement of many (mountain) sports, such as hiking, climbing, trail running, jogging or weight training can be balanced out with yoga. You strengthen your body, stretch it, learn to control your mind, sharpen your concentration and ensure better regeneration with concerted relaxation.
The best thing is, you can practise yoga anywhere and integrate it into your daily routine. Whether on a hard-earned mountain peak, on the way up or at home.
Yoga has hundreds of benefits to offer and there just as many styles of yoga. Yet, you feel and experience yoga best of all when you simply do it and find out your own personal benefits for yourself. As a qualified yoga teacher and keen mountain sports enthusiast, I particularly appreciate the combination of sport and yoga, exerting yourself and recharging your batteries. I gain great pleasure in this passion, and particularly the gem of yoga, with other people.
In this article I’ll show you a few so-called asanas, physical exercises which are great in preparation for your mountain season or for you to practise after an extensive tour.
What’s important when doing yoga?
Ahimsa – not to hurt yourself or others. Should you feel pain during any of the exercises, you should stop at once and find another variation or leave it out completely. In yoga it’s very important to listen to your body. It gives you clear signals, as to whether it’s good or not so good for you.
Don’t be too strict with yourself. Each body is built differently, your body is unique. Thus, you’ll find individual yoga exercises to suit you. Breathe in and out deeply, arrive in the here and now, think less and feel more – that’s what yoga’s all about for me. Find out what yoga means to you. “If you can breathe, you can do yoga!” Have fun with these exercises! Namasté, Carina
Grab a mat, choose a cosy spot and let’s get started!
-> Begin your yoga session with a short meditation and you’ll feel calm and can imagine yourself on your favourite mountain. Feel a light breeze in your hair, the warm rays of sun on your skin and savour the tranquility on your mountain, as #atleastyoucandream
We start by loosening our hips. Sit down on your mat, bend your knees and press the soles of your feet together. Grab your feet with your hands and pull them nearer to your body, paying attention that your spine stays upright and doesn’t fall into a round back. Let your knees sink gently. You can also flap your legs like a butterfly. This gently loosens your hips.
Cat – cow (Marjaryasana-Bidalasana)
Kneel on all fours – your knees are directly under your hips, your wrists under your shoulders, the backs of your feet touching the floor. On inhale you stretch into a gentle arched back, your chest pulls forward, your gaze slightly upwards – the “cow”. On exhale you make an arched back like a cat. Leading from the pelvis, your back is rounded and to finish you lower your head, your gaze towards your belly button. Then you move into cow pose and then cat pose. Let yourself be guided by your breathing and repeat the exercise a few times. This mobilizes your spine, strengthens and stretches your back. If you have sensitive knees, place a blanket under your knees or point your toes to the floor.
Warrior I (Vira Bhadrasana)
Starting position is Tadasana, the mountain pose, upright stance. Stand at the front of your mat and take a big step back with your right foot. The toes of your right foot are pointing to the floor, your left foot is firmly rooted to the floor. Bend your left leg, paying attention that you can see the toes of your left foot (your left knee never wanders over your left ankle). Your right hip pushes forward. Bring your hands up, your shoulders are pulled down, your gaze gently upwards. If possible, you can also put your right foot back and turn it approx. 45° to the right. If your shoulders are comfortable, you can put your palms together. Hold the pose for several breaths, then change sides. Feel the warrior or a hero within you, your physical, above all inner strength.
The tree helps you to collect yourself and to focus. Stand firmly on your mat. Shift your body weight and your attention to your right foot and move slowly and focused into the variation of tree pose which feels best for you. Bring your left foot into one of the following positions:
- on the inside of the right leg, your big toe supports you.
- on the inside of your right calf.
- on the inside of your right thigh.
(careful: don’t bring your foot to knee height, don’t press it against your knee – it lies above or below the inside of your leg.) Your left knee is always facing to the left. Fix your gaze on an unmoving point in front of you. Place both hands in Namasté in front of your chest. When you feel secure, move your hands above your head. Hold this pose for a few deep breaths and repeat with the other leg. Tip: if you have trouble balancing, form a tree crown with your hand (a large U) and balance that way.
As is widely known, the best comes last. One the of the best, if not THE best asana in yoga is called Savasana. This asana allows your body to relax and regenerate after strengthening yoga poses or an extensive mountain tour. You lie comfortably on your back on your mat, feet a little wider than hip-wide apart, your arms placed next to your body, the palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and try to slacken your body completely, to relax. Feel your breath flow through your nose, feel how your abdomen rises with an inhale and sinks with an exhale. Feel yourself. Let your thoughts drift and allow yourself to sink well and truly into relaxation. Spend five to ten minutes in this position or longer if you wish 😊
Photo credits: Carina Breitfuß