Swapping the gym for the great outdoors? Same. Come spring there’s no stopping us from walking, jogging and hiking all over our weekends — and we love the idea of warming things up with this elegant, mind-calming routine from Playlist Yoga’s Chief Yoga Officer, Nicole Sciacca. Get stretched out, warmed up and ready to hit the trails…
This sequence can be used as a “dynamic stretch” where you breathe and flow while enhancing circulation and preparing the muscles for exercise and movement. We are focusing on the quadriceps or fronts of the thighs, the hamstrings or back of the legs, calves, hip flexors and psoas. The psoas (along with other muscles in the leg and hip) helps flex and extend the hip joint, which are prominent movements when you run, walk or hike. This flow would be ideal before a walk or hike. It could also be a great flow for a long day sitting at the office or in a car.
5-Minute Outdoor Yoga Flow
Start standing upright, feet together in mountain pose. Inhale arms over head, clasp left wrist with the right hand and reach up and over to the right. Lengthen the tailbone toward your heels and breathe fully into the side body. Repeat to the left side. Stand tall and open both arms into a goal-post shape, lifting from the upper-middle back and again lengthening the tailbone to the heels. Inhale the arms overhead and then gently fold forward, bending the knees if that feels better for the hamstrings.
Inhale halfway up and fold. Repeat 2 more times.
Plant the hands to the mat and step the right leg back. Lower your right knee and then inhale the arms up and overhead. Clasp the right wrist with the left hand and reach the upper body to the left, breathing into the side body. Continue to lift the frontal hip points upward and gently press the hips forward, opening the hip flexor, psoas and quadriceps.
Exhale the hands to the mat, straightening the left leg and gently fold forward over the leg. Stay on the fingertips, if need be.
Continue to hold and breathe for about 3 deep breaths.
Root the left foot down to the mat and straighten both legs, folding into a standing runner’s lunge.
Again take 3 deep breaths.
Root the hands to the mat and gently step the left leg back to downward facing dog. On the inhale lift the right leg up and behind you. Open the hips and draw a few circles with the bent knee. Make sure to switch directions.
Lower the leg back to downward dog.
(Optional: Take a vinyasa through upward facing dog.)
Repeat the sequence on the left side.
Walk the hands back to the feet and take malasana. Feet are wider than hip width, toes turn out. Bend the knees and bring the hands together at the heart. Press the elbows into the inner knees to gently open the groins. If your heels don’t touch the floor, roll up a towel to keep the heels supported. Take a few deep breaths.
(Optional: Root the hands down and move through another vinyasa.)
Step the right foot up between the hands for a crescent lunge. Keep the left hand or fingertips aligned under the left shoulder and peel the heart open for a gentle upper body twist. Continue to actively firm the back thigh up.
Take 3 breaths and then step back to down dog to switch sides.
(Optional: one more vinyasa.)
Walk the feet to the hands, inhale halfway up, keeping your hands on your shin bones, exhale and fold deeply.
Inhale to rise to stand and you are ready to hit the trail!