ॐ trail yoga

Football, baseball and soccer players utilize yoga to heal injuries, become more flexible to prevent injuries and to extend their careers. Hikers and backpackers can also greatly benefit from yoga - on the trail and during training for upcoming adventures. 

This page illustrates and describes how I wash away the miles and feel brand spankin' new at the end of a long day. Stretching 10 - 15 minutes (ok sometimes 20 minutes) in the morning, during lunch and at camp leave my body and mind feeling refreshed and energized. 

In the mornings, stretching builds up heat in my body and lengthens tight, sore muscles. 
In the afternoons, stretching revitalizes my body and mind more than a nap! 
At camp, after stretching my tired and achy muscles, I'm able to peacefully relax, reflect, journal and plan the next day.

Before I continue, I'd like to thank my dear friend and amazing teacher Joy Stone for helping me create this routine based on my particular needs. 

**If these stretches and poses are new to you, please consult a yoga teacher before attempting**

Hug Knees Into Chest*

Release tension in your hip flexors, legs, back and shoulders. Hug your knees into your chest and hold your knees with your hands. Roll your butt towards the ground to elongate your spine. Press your shoulder heads down towards the floor to expand your chest and open your heart. Hold for 5 full breaths.

Hug One Knee Into Chest*

Same directions as above but with only one leg hugging into your chest. Hug your left knee into your chest and either extend your right leg straight or keep it bent with your right foot on the mat. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Twisty IT-Band Stretch*

Bend your knee, cross your leg over your body and try to keep both shoulders on the mat. This action will stretch your shoulders, back and spine too. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

IT-Band Stretch II*

This variation not only stretches your IT-Bands and the surrounding leg muscles, but your hip flexors also. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Inverted Pigeon*

Inverted pigeon is an AMAZING stretch for your hips, butt, back and shoulders. Cross your left leg over your right leg. Your left ankle should be above the right knee, resting on your right thigh. Thread your arms through your legs and clasp your hands behind your right hamstring. Roll your butt towards the ground to create a curve in your lower back. Press your shoulders down towards the floor. Press your right leg in towards you with your hands while simultaneously moving your left knee away from your body. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Child's Pose*

Release tension in your back, shoulders and legs while stretching your feet and ankles. With your big toes touching and your knees wide, kneel and rest your forehead on your mat. Stretch your arms out in front of you and roll your butt towards your heels. Raise your elbows, arms and shoulders away from the ground while simultaneously melting your heart down towards your mat. (You can also do this pose with your arms resting by your sides or with your hands clasped behind your butt.) Hold for 5 full breaths.


Great stretch for your spine, back and shoulders. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale and look up to open you heart. Exhale and look inward (down toward your knees) and dome your spine. Do at least 3 of each.

Spinal Twist*

This is a great stretch following cat/cow. From your hands and knees, with your spine in a neutral position, inhale as you look to your left and bend your torso into a C shape. Exhale back to center. Do other side. Repeat at least 3 times. **TIP** Let your breath guide your movement. In other words, begin to breathe, then start to move. This applies to all stretches.

Bridge Pose*

Great stretch for your abs, chest, back, spine, neck, shoulders and legs! Resting on your back, bring your feet to your mat. Your feet should be close enough so that your outstretched fingers can touch your heels. With your feet inner hips distance apart (roughly 2 fists distance), bend your arms so that the palms of your hands are facing each other with your elbows on the ground. Lift your hips off the ground. Make sure your knees don't collapse in towards each other or splay outward. Also lift your chin away from your chest. Hold for 5 breaths.

Downward Facing Dog

Down Dog stretches your entire body! Your feet, ankles, Achilles tendons, heels, shins, calves, hamstrings, pelvis, lower/mid/upper back, shoulders, spine, arms and hands will all thank you for doing this pose! From your hands and knees, lift your knees and straighten your legs, keeping a slight bend in your knees. Arms are shoulder width apart. Claw the ground with your fingers (making sure the mound of your index fingers stay planted on your mat), and fire up your arms (by energetically squeezing your forearms towards each other and energetically pulling your upper arms away from each other). Hollow out your armpits and broaden your shoulder blades down your back to alighn your ears with your biceps. Melt your heart towards your feet. Raise your butt as high as you can while trying to get your heels closer to the ground. Hold for 5 full breaths.

Shoulder Opener With A Twist

This is a great stretch for your shoulders and torso. From your hands and knees, extend your left arm forward slightly and take your right arm under the left. Place your right shoulder and your head on your mat. Take your left shoulder back in space and twist from your right side body for a deeper stretch. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Hamstring and Shoulder Opener

Open your legs wide with the outsides of your feet parallel to your mat. Clasp your hands behind your back and fold forward. Reach your arms over your head being mindful to keep your shoulder heads lifted. Also keep a slight bend in your elbows and knees to prevent them from locking. Hold for 5 full breaths.

Shoulder Openers

Place your right hand and forearm on the trunk of a tree. Your elbow should be as high as your shoulder, making your right tricep parallel to the ground. Roll both shoulders onto your back and stand as upright as possible, keeping your chin, upper palate and ears back. You can also do this stretch with your right arm extended out and only your hand on the trunk of the tree. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Low Lunge and Lizard Pose

From your hands and knees, take your left leg back enough that your left knee is behind your hip. Energetically hug your legs in towards one another to create muscle energy. Place your hands on either side of your front leg. Extend your torso upright or to a 45 degree angle. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.
If taking lizard pose, keep your back leg where it is and move your right leg out to the right slightly. Bring your hands to the mat inside your right leg. Now bring your elbows to your mat, keeping your butt as high up as you can and stretching your heart forward by keeping your shoulder heads back. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Runner's Stretch

Great stretch for your hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendons. From your hands and knees, bring your left foot forward keeping your right knee directly under the hip. Place your hands on either side of your left leg, with your toes pointing upward. Keep a slight bend in your left knee and fold forward over your left leg. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Thigh Stretch With a Twist

This pose stretches your thighs, shoulders and upper back. From your hands and knees, extend your left foot forward. Bring your right foot up, and grab the outside (or inside if tight) of your right foot with your left hand. Place your right hand on the ground, twist to your left, move your shoulders down your back and stretch, keeping your heel touching (or as close to) your butt. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.

Standing Forward Fold

Great stretch for your Achilles, calves, hamstrings, back, spine and shoulders. With your feet inner hips distance apart (roughly 2 fists distance), fold forward keeping your knees slightly bent. Place your fingertips on your mat or your hands on your shins . Do not let your shoulders drop towards your ears. Instead, move your shoulder blades down your back. Hold for 3 full breaths, longer if possible or desired.
TIP - instead of trying to get your head between your thighs, try to get your heart to your shins. This will extend your spine more and prevent it from doming.

Standing Half Forward Fold

From a standing forward fold, place your fingers on your mat (or hands on your shins) and come up half way to straighten your spine. Your gaze is slightly in front of your fingers, with your shoulders going onto your back and your heart melting down and forward. Hold for 3 full breaths and fold in again keeping your spine long.

Forward Fold IT-Band Stretch

Cross your right foot over your left foot and follow instructions from the standing forward fold. Be mindful to keep your right big toe mound on your mat as it tends to come up easily. Hold for 3 full breaths on each side, longer if possible.

Plantar Fascia Stretch

From your hands and knees, transfer your weight to your feet and sit with your butt on your heels. Your knees and feet can be slightly apart. Keep your spine straight with your shoulder blades on your back. Also keep your chin, upper palate and ears moving back. Hold for as long as you can. Aim for a minimum of 30 seconds and maximum of 2 minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 times, but not subsequently. Do another stretch and return to this one after completing the other stretch.

Stretch and Strengthen Ankles And Shins

Lying on your back, write (or draw) all 26 letters of the alphabet in CAPS with each foot. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Side Stretch

Don't let the name fool you. This pose stretches your side body, spine, back, shoulders and legs. With your legs outer hips distance apart and your toes pointing forward, raise your arms to the sky and clasp your hands. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, side bend to your right.  Keep your front ribs in (they tend to pop out when your arms are above your head), your armpits hollow and your shoulders down on your back. Also keep your ears in line with your biceps by taking your chin, upper palate and ears back. Hold for 5 full breaths on each side.
*Stretch can be done in sleeping bag too. This helps create heat rapidly on chilly mornings and cool evenings.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me or leave a comment. Happy Hiking!


  1. Andy! This is such a great resource for runners, hikers, bikers.. really any athlete! Thank you for taking the time to put this together and with such detail and care. Awesome work!

    1. Thanks Joy. It was fun putting this page together.

  2. I love this! Was thinking of creating the same thing for my walk on the Camino Frances in Spain next year, but you've done it for us. I'm just returning to backpacking - what a new work of equipment it is.

    1. Thanks Kerry! Glad you're backpacking again. There truly is nothing like it. Happy Trails

  3. Ran across your blog and was delighted to read it. I love that you did yoga on the trail but I was wondering if you took a mat of some sort with you - didn't see it listed on your gear list

    1. I cut 3 sections from a Thermarest Z Lite pad and used it on the trail as a sit/stretch pad. It worked great! I also used my inflatable air pad inside & outside my tent which also did the job quite well.

      Happy Trails

  4. I'm glad I stumbled across this. I'll be learning these to use during my AT thru-hike. Thanks.

    1. Awesome! Have a great hike. If you plan to journal, feel free to share the link to your blog.

      Happy Trails

  5. Hi Andy,
    Great routine!
    Do you mind if I take your photos and instructions into a PDF document that's easier to read off-line on my iphone? I might also rearrange the pics+instructions to be side-by-side to optimize the layout.
    I will of course give you full credit and a pointer to this this page/blog.

    1. Hi Jerome,

      Please feel free to use the info on this page however it suits you best.

      Happy hiking :)

  6. Howdy!

    Thanks much for these. My honey and I are planning a thru-hike this Sept. I thru-hiked the PCT in 2000 and barely did any stretching. Ha! 15 years later, the body is speaking a different language. We super appreciate the resource info---->the 16 day itinerary looks perfect for us, with the addition of a zero day at Muir Trail Ranch to **BE**.

    For the love of dirt and oms,
    Valerie, aka Mdme. Butterfly


  7. This is so RAD!!! Andy- you are AMAZING. Thank you for the time and energy you used to create and share this. So helpful.