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The Mountains are Calling, Part 1

February 13, 2020

The Mountains are Calling, Part 1

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.

Mountains are Calling You to Yoga“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.”

  1. Stand. Feet are hip distance apart, your quadriceps engaged, your spine long.
  2. Bend forward at the hips and allow chest to drop toward your thighs, hands on the ground or interlace elbows.
  3. Inhale and extend your chest to lengthen your spine.
  4. Exhale and gently press both legs toward straight.
  5. On an exhalation, extend your torso down without rounding your back. Let your head hang between your arms.
  6. Hold for 5-7 breaths

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.”

  1. Start in Table Top Pose (on all fours) Inhale.
  2. On the exhale plant your palms, tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back,
  3. Hands shoulder width apart, feet hip width apart. Your spine long and tailbone toward the sky, Heels moving towards the floor, fingers spread, equal pressure throughout the hands,
  4. Broaden the shoulder blades across the upper back,
  5. Engage triceps toward each other and engage quadriceps. Let head hang heavy,
  6. Hold for 5 - 7 breaths

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.”

  1. From Downward Facing Dog, you step right leg forward between the hands,
  2. Gently place your left knee on the ground, interlace your fingers on top of your right thigh,
  3. Take a big inhale and on the exhale, gently press your hips forward, ensuring your right knee does not go over your ankle.
  4. Hold for 8-10 breaths on each side.

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.”

  1. Start in Standing and extend your arms straight out to the side,
  2. Step your feet to the width of your arms and rotate toes slightly in and heels out,
  3. For arm variation, Interlace your fingers together behind you,
  4. Breath in and lift your heart towards the sky. As you exhale, fold forward keeping your hand interlaced together,
  5. Hold for 8-10 Breaths.

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:

The Mountains are Calling, Part 2 (Skin!) -->