In 1873, John Muir famously wrote, “The mountains are calling & I must go.” And so many of us can’t help but feel that similar pull to explore the wilderness of our hills and mountains near and far in Northern California. With Spring just around the corner, we look towards the mountains for opportunities to hike on our many sunny trails in the Bay Area hills or hit the slopes in the snowy Sierras.
As you heed that call and pack your favorite gear and snacks, are you taking the time to consider how you prepare your body and skin for the adventures? Sunny hikes and high-altitude ski runs may give you unparalleled peace of mind; but the sun, wind and strenuous activity can take an unexpected toll on your skin and body. In this two-part blog, Gena Price, IO’s Massage Director and Jennifer Gallegos, IO’s Esthetics Director provide you with their top wellness tips for caring for your skin and body as you head to the mountains.
In part one, Gena discusses key yoga poses that focus on flexibility and mobility for some of your hard-worked muscle groups that take a beating on the trails and the slopes. From a clear mind to full stretches for legs, thighs, back and shoulders, yoga is one of your best friends on the mountain, before and after your day.
“Honestly, it’s hard to pick just four of my favorite poses to prepare for (or recover from) a day of hiking or skiing in the mountains.” Says Gena, “But there are a few really key poses that even the novice should try that will make your body feel stronger, more stable, and hopefully help with sore muscles.”
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) will wake up your hamstrings and clear the mind. “I love to do this first thing in the morning when I’m just waking up my body and mind. High altitudes can be really hard at first and this always feels like it’s getting my blood moving.”
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is a great full body stretch and helps loosen tight calves. “I do this before and after my outing. For skiers and snowboarders especially, this helps relieve the pressure on the calves during a long day.”
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) will stretch your hard-working hip flexors, which engage with every step, slide, jump and wobble. “Uneven terrain on mountain trails or controlling skis on the slopes mean the hip flexors can take a beating. This will provide great relief.”
Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold with Shoulder Stretch (Prasarita Padottanasana) is one of the most complete stretches for hamstrings, calves and glutes with the option to add arm variation to open up back, chest and shoulders. “Often, we carry backpacks in the mountains, and I look to this powerful pose to open up my whole body before and after the day.”
Looking for more? Gena loves Half Splits and Pyramid Pose to keep the thighs, hamstrings, calves and groin for stretching and balance! Want to see how each of these poses look and don’t have a Yogi handy? Yoga Journal has an online resource to get tips through their A-Z Posefinder: