Yoga to Rejuvenate and Strengthen Your Shoulders (On and Off the Trail)
Where our bias lies in terms of contributing to the pursuit of better travel and life outdoors is pretty straightforward. It’s certainly not lost on us, though, primarily through our experiences and those of our kindred explorers, that there’s a LOT that goes into making endeavors into the backcountry successful. Know-how about food, weather, terrain, and of course, gear are all critical skillsets to have, but none of that will go very far if YOU aren’t able to safely give it your all. It should go without saying that understanding how to maintain your physical self is perhaps the most critical piece of knowledge you need to move forward outside, and that’s why we’re stoked to introduce our friend Kat Englishman. She’s here to coach us with some fundamental techniques that will help keep us all moving down the trail far into the foreseeable future. Header photo by Joe Klementovich.
I’m Kat. A writer, yoga teacher, and lover of the outdoors based in the beautiful state of Maine. Most of the time these three parts of my life exist separately in their own silos, but when I’m really lucky they all overlap. I grew up hiking, backpacking, skiing, and adventuring outside, and fell in love with yoga a decade ago after I discovered the many ways it enhanced nearly every aspect of my life. Today, I am a registered yoga teacher with almost 1000 hours of training under my belt and over seven years of teaching experience. Before and after I get outside, I try to (almost) always get on my mat so I can start with a bit more flexibility and wind down with a nice recovery session. And let me tell you, it makes all the difference and then some.
As I continue to teach, study, and practice yoga it’s clear that it can do so much more than just complement an active lifestyle, however, that’s a great place to start. So, I’m excited to share some simple and accessible yoga poses and stretches to add to your workout routine for all your backpacking and multisport pursuits.
When we’re outside getting after it, we probably aren’t as likely to pause and think about the alignment of our neck and shoulders or engaging certain muscles, and why would we? Our time out of doors is better spent in the present moment, which is why a little bit of yoga done consistently is a great tool for priming your body, and of course, your mind, to be in optimal condition while you’re out doing the dang thing.
So, in one sense, yoga can be a really useful way of getting back to basics. In the context of yoga poses like the ones in this video, there’s so much we can learn about the essential components of healthy movement. For example, doing poses to increase shoulder strength and range of motion can prep your upper body to carry the weight of your pack for less muscle soreness and exhaustion, so you’re ready to go next time.
This is just one way to build a connection to your body and learn to adapt to its ever-changing needs and capabilities as you evolve and grow. Sometimes, a simple approach is best but there’s so much to explore. If you have ever wanted to create a strong and resilient foundation so you can challenge yourself more without risking injury or burnout, then this is for you.
I’ll see you on the mat!
Katherine Englishman is a writer and yoga teacher based in the beautiful state of Maine. You can find her outside skiing, hiking, biking, or teaching yoga and meditation for the modern yoga student at Waypoints Yoga.