Sore feet, tired legs, and aching backs are not fun after you've just enjoyed a walk outside in the fresh air. You walk for your health not for the pain. Want to up your walking game? A few simple yoga poses can help you avoid a sore back, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and fatigued legs, all while boosting your stamina, improving your balance, and strengthening your core.

Yoga Benefits for Walkers

  • Increase your stamina
  • Breathe with greater ease
  • Improve your posture
  • Energize fatigued legs
  • Relax tight lower back muscles
  • Alleviate tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Strengthen your knees
  • Avoid developing bunions
  • Reduce foot pain
  • Less likely to get shin splints

 

Mountain Pose - Tadasana 

 

Benefit:  

Find your footing with more ease and be less likely to trip. When you lose awareness and sensitivity in your feet it's harder to keep your balance. Get your feet out of your shoes, wake them up, and get ready to walk! Avoid shin splints and strengthen your ankles when you work your feet in mountain pose.

How to do it:  

Stand with your feet hip distance wide and line up the feet to be parallel from the center of your ankle out to the second toe. Lift one heel at a time, press the ball of the foot into the floor, and take care to keep the foot vertical (avoid rolling to the pinky toe side). Push to a point.  Repeat each side 5 times and then switch sides.

Skier Pose - Utkatasana variation

 

Benefit:

Healthy knees! Strengthen your outer shins and keep your knees strong.

How to do it:  

From mountain pose, bend your knees, move your inner thighs back like you're going to take a seat. Bring your hands to the widest part of your outer shins, just beneath your knees. Lift and spread your toes, feel your outer shin muscles tone. Press your hands against the shins, hugging them towards one another. Resist the knees from coming together and press the inner thighs away from one another. Relax your toes. Bring your hands to your hips, lift the head of your shoulders, and come up to standing.

Variations on Lunges

High Lunge

Benefit:

Alleviate lower back tension and tight thighs.

How to do it:

From mountain move into a forward bend and step your right leg back. Bring your hands in line with your front foot. Spread your right toes, activate your outer shin as if your hand were still pressing against it. Square your hips to the front of your mat. Lift your right inner thigh an inch higher. Bend your left leg to 90 degrees. Make sure your still breathing and extend from the core of your belly to the crown of your head and back to your right foot.  Hold for 5 - 10 breaths. Switch sides.

 

Low Lunge

Benefit:

Release lower back discomfort and boost your energy.

How to do it:

From the high lunge, lower the right knee to the floor. Hug your thighs towards one another. Wrap the right hip forward and tack the outer left hip back. As the right thigh resists the low lunge, allow the pelvis to come forward. Root through the right heel and extend up from the belly to the fingertips. While relaxing the shoulder blades down the back. Hold for 5 - 10 breaths. Switch sides.

 

Low lunge with side body stretch

BEnefit:

Breathe easier and open tight side bodies.

How to do it:

From the low lunge, with the right leg back, use your left hand, hold onto your right wrist, keeping the right arm in socket, lengthen from hips to fingertips. Use the left hand and lengthen the right arm and lean to the left. Hold for 5 - 10 breaths. Switch sides.

 

Crescent Hight Lunge

Benefit:

Build leg strength and reduce fatigue for longer walks.

How to do it:

From the high lunge, with right leg back, root firmly through the mound of the left big toe. Hug your thighs towards one another, keeping hips square. Sweep your arms up along side your ears. Lengthen from the belly out to the left knee and back to the right foot. From the hips reach up to sky while relaxing the shoulder lades down the back. Hold for 5 - 10 breaths. Switch sides.

 

Warrior II - Virabhadrasana II

Benefit:

Open tight hips and strengthen the muscles around your knee.

How to do it:

Take a wide stance, extend your arms to a 'T', and line your feet up with your wrists. Turn your left foot in an inch, turn your right leg open, line up your right foot, so that your toes point to the top of your mat. Bend your right leg to 90 degrees. Root the four corners of your feet into the floor. Isometrically draw the legs towards one another. Keep the muscle tone in your legs and extend from your hips out through the right knee and down to the outer edge of your left foot. Look over your right finger tips. Hold for 5 - 10 breaths. Switch sides.

Recling Warrior II - Virabhadrasana II variation

Benefit:

Improve posture and release tight hip flexors.

How to do it:

From Warrior II, turn your right palm to the sky. Slide your left hand down your left leg (be careful and do not press on your knee). Stnd strong through the back leg and bend your front leg deeply. Look up to the sky. Hold for 5 - 10 breaths. Switch sides.

Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I

Benefit:

Improve balance and build leg strength with this deep hip opener.

How to do it:

From the Crescent High Lunge, swivel your back foot flat. If your hips are very tight, widen your front foot a few inches towards the edge of your mat. Square your hips to the front of you mat. Bend the front leg towards 90 degrees and reach your arms to the sky.

 

Mountain Pose with Jelly Roll  - Tadasana variation

Benefit:

Prevent shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

How to do it:

Roll up your sticky mat or a firm blanket. Place the balls of your feet onto the rolled up blanket (the jelly roll). If you feel unsteady, unroll your blanket, and reduce the height. You should feel a wonderful stretch in your calves. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Forward Bend with Jelly Roll - Uttanasana variation

Benefit:

Improve your stride and open hamstrings and calves.

How to do it:

From mountain pose with the jelly roll beneath your feet, hinge at the hips, and place your hands on a chair or counter. If you feel any stress in your back, bend your knees. Keep the feet parallel and hip distance wide. Root down through the balls of your feet. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

 

Deep Forward Bend with Jelly Roll - Uttanasana variation

If you don't feel a stretch in the back of your legs with your hands on the chair. Slowly bring your hands to the floor. Bend the knees an inch, spread your toes to work your outer shins, and then press the ball of our feet into the jelly roll and stretch your legs as straight as is breathable.

Squat - Malasana

Benefit:

Create flexibility in your ankles, release tight calves, strengthen your legs, and tone your core. 

How to do it:

For the greatest benefit, your heels need to be rooting into something, rather than suspended in the air. Using your rolled up blanket beneath your heels, bend your legs, moving your bottom back, like the skier pose. Slowly lower your hips and settle your arms between your legs. Press your arms and legs against each other and extend from the belly up through the crown of your head. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

 

Thunderbolt with toes curled under - Vajrasana

Benefit:

Open tight thighs, keep knees healthy, create flexibility in ankles and feet.

How to do it:

Come to table position, with your toes curled under, slowly walk your hands back towards your knees. You can keep your hands on the floor, then slowly walk them up your legs. As your toes are ready, sit up with a straight spine. Try to hold for 5-10 breaths.

Locust - Salabhasana

Benefit:

Improve your posture and strengthen your back. Release tension in the shoulders and open your chest.

How to do it:

Lying on your belly, point the feet behind you. Keep the legs no wider than hip's distance. Press the tops of the feet onto the floor and scoop the tailbone. Interlace the fingers behind the back (or hold onto a belt if shoulders are too tight to reach fingers). Lengthen from the hips to the underarms, draw the shoulder blades towards one another, lift the chest and head away from the ground. Hold for 5 breaths.

 

Cobra - Bhujangasana

Benefit:

Tones your bottom, boosts your mood, increases vitality.

How to do it:

Lying on your belly, point the feet directly behind you, and press the tops of the feet onto the floor. Place the hands next to the chest with the creases of your wrist parallel to the top of the mat. Lengthen from the hips to the underarms, lift the head of the shoulders. Press the hands down and isometrically draw the floor back, so your spine lengthens forward. Curl the chest forward and up. Initially, keep your elbows bent, soften between the shoulder blades, and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Over time you can straighten your arms, as long as the head of the shoulders don't collapse forward.

 

Half Frog - Ardha Bhekasana

Benefit:

Release lower back tension and discomfort. Open shoulders.

How to do it:

Lying on your belly, bring your left arm parallel to the top of your mat. Bend your right leg and reach your right hand back for your foot. Press the foot and hand into one another as you draw the heel towards the outer right hip. Keep your chest square to the floor or top of your mat. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then switch sides.

 

Puppy Pose - Uttana Shishosana

Benefit:

Reduce fatigue and release tension in your upper back.

How to do it:

From table position, walk your hands forward two hand lengths. Come up onto your finger tips. Press your fingertips into the floor, roll the sit bones to the sky, and soften between your shoulder blades. Extend from the base of your heart all the way to your hips. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

 

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

Benefit:

Open tight calves, release tight hamstrings, strengthen your arms, and calm your mind.

How to do it:

From table position (knees beneath the hips and hands beneath the shoulders), soften between your shoulder blades, curl your toes under, and lift your hips to the sky. Take the time to look at your hands and make sure that the creases of your wrist are parallel with the top of your sticky mat. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

 

Eye of the Needle - Sucirandhrasana

Benefit:

Open tight outer hips.

How to do it:

Lying on your back with your legs bent. Place your right ankle over your left thigh. Draw the legs as a unit towards your chest and hold on behind your left leg. Work you feet, spreading your toes, and reaching out through the ball of your feet. Resist your hands and press your left leg into your hands, even as you draw your legs in towards your chest. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then switch sides.

 

Eye of the Needle with Twist - Sucirandhrasana

Benefit:

Deep release to tight hip flexors.

How to do it:

Lying on your back with your legs bent. Place your right ankle over your left thigh. Roll towards your outer left hip and bring your right foot towards the floor. Using your left hand, gently press your inner right thigh towards the front of your mat, while standing the right foot firmly onto the floor or a block. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then switch sides.

 

Legs up the Chair - Viparita Karani variation

Benefit:

Alleviate tired and fatigued legs. Reduce water retention in legs and swollen ankles. Deep rest and peacefulness. 

How to do it:

Grab a chair, place your calves on the seat. Rest with your arms alongside your body. Hold for 2-5 minutes.