So what is hiking yoga?
It’s a unique 90 minute workout integrating the cardio of hiking with the power of yoga. In intervals, certified instructors set a heart-pumping pace towards beautiful vistas, then provide beneficial yoga instruction suitable for all levels. Classes are designed to stretch, strengthen and re-focus on breath. People with varying levels of experience with yoga are welcome. It’s a great way to get a great workout and enjoy the beauty of San Francisco!
2012 hiking yoga classes begin on Jan. 7. Classes are $20 and meet under the clock tower of the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. To learn more or sign up, visit the Hiking Yoga website.
Here are some Q&As from the Hiking Yoga website to give you more information on what make hiking yoga unique:
What is special about hiking yoga?
Hiking Yoga is extraordinary because we bring our customers local studio practice into a whole new environment. We embody a spirit of exploration, making our workout routine (approx 3 miles/hr) an easy and fun addition to anyone’s schedule. Our vibrant instructors lead an high-energy interval workout by setting a heart-pumping pace towards beautiful vistas, and then provide beneficial yoga instruction suitable for all levels.
We are so lucky to have instructors from all over the United States and around the globe. All have different backgrounds and have studied a wide variety of alternative health topics. To name a few, we have nutritionists, herbalists, doctors, and yogis with multiple styles who have combined their knowledge and can uniquely present it to our customers. We have a structure for our teachers to follow, but encourage each teacher to bring their own flare into their yoga hike. This way, our customers will always get a unique and rewarding experience.
The most intriguing part about Hiking Yoga is that we are a social yoga experience—the hiking gives time to chat with friends and the teacher, while the partner yoga at the last station is a fun way to interact and try a unique partner pose. We commonly have locals grab a bite to eat afterwards or bring a visiting friend to show off their favorite city. Hiking Yoga attracts those who want more unity with themselves and others. Most yoga goers are only able to connect with their buddies briefly right before or after class, and then off they go to the next affair on their schedule.
What is the difference between hiking yoga and regular yoga?
What sets us apart from the rest is that we are outdoors, so leave your yoga mat behind! We work on strength, flexibility and posture in the fresh air, which makes for a well-rounded exercise. Practicing downward-facing-dog and side-triangle in front of a sunset or beautiful city view takes ones practice to another level. Many poses have animal or nature names— tree pose, mountain pose – which can be fun to imitate while they are actually part of your surroundings!
The expansive knowledge we have on our team allows for each customer experience to be different. Regular yoga classes are typically categorized by a certain style, which allows the yogi to know exactly what kind of workout they are going to get. A beautiful aspect about Hiking Yoga is the variety of practices and advanced studies our teachers offer, ranging from acroyoga to martial arts to herbalism. I highly encourage all of our teachers to bring their own personality and creativity into their yoga hikes. Just check out our teacher bios on our website, I am continually impressed and inspired by how much they do and learn! It is pretty cool to think we have a holistic team sharing valuable information on a national scale.
What are the health benefits?
Customers come to us seeking a wide variety of benefits to enhance their lifestyle. Some want to increase their vitality and weight loss with our high-energy interval workout. Others want to begin a fitness routine that is multi-faceted and train for an upcoming event.
We also have yoga hikers who want to distress after a long day in the office. Various relaxation techniques, meditations and breathing exercises are more fulfilling and grounding in natural flowing air, compared to an enclosed class where the amount of oxygen is limited. I commonly bring in the ujjayi breath which helps to establish that relaxing and connected sensation inside your body, and establish a rhythm with the gentle sounds of nature.
Studies show that yoga is an effective way to reduce and manage a whole array of health conditions, including heart disease, insomnia and depression. Yoga outdoors provides new experiences – even if you’ve been doing yoga indoors for years, you’ll discover new challenges and new pleasures and, as a result, new benefits. Our workout is extraordinary since it stimulates the senses, mind and heightens physical awareness. The vitamin D in sunshine raises serotonin levels, increasing happiness and further promoting internal harmony and peace.
Yoga started thousands of years ago out in nature, not in a studio, building or temple. We make it possible for yogis to practice side-triangle and downward-facing-dog in its intended natural setting, which I think truly creates the ultimate mind-body-spirit connection. Some practice yoga to move towards a deeper connection with themselves and the universe. When exposed to the natural environment, you recognize your role as part of a bigger picture. It is also for the same reason and benefits that yoga retreats are mostly held in outdoor environments that enable one to get close to nature and practice on an organic surface.
The beauty of nature, like being next to a campfire, immediately inspires you to emerge from your safe zone and tap into more creative energies, which can put personal troubles into perspective. Heading out with a group also promotes joyful social interaction and human connection, making it easy to come back and make it easy to return.
How does yoga compliment hiking?
Yoga is a great compliment to hiking because it provides diverse movements throughout the body. There is outward and inward rotation of all major joints, which help to cleanse and detoxify the body with deep twists. Forward motion activities, such as running and hiking, are when ones arms and legs move backwards and forwards in the same way. This exercise provides a great workout, but if you only do this you end up neglecting muscles and create bad habits for your body that could eventually lead to overuse or injury.
By integrating the yoga, we are also a lot less sore. Instead of powering up the mountains and being unaware of how they are hiking, we are focusing on the ankles, hip flexers and body motion while exercising. We eliminate the soreness after one is finished hiking by having yoga stations in intervals throughout the hike.
The combination also opens up the lungs more due to the cardio and focus on breath. We do partner yoga so that people can connect, which keep the lungs working during conversation too! A shared experience is just sweeter, since it is simply wonderful to be outdoors and interacting with like-minded people.