Yoga to Walk up Hills and Slopes
Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Take yoga off your mat and out into the world!
Organising your body well, releasing tension and moving in good alignment means that your muscles can work more effectively to move your bones. Moving takes less energy. There’s more room around your joints. You have space for movement to flow freely so joints are healthier, juicier, more comfortable and better nourished.
How well are you aligned?
Don’t just notice when you stand on your yoga mat. You’re probably consciously correcting your habits and on ‘best alignment behaviour’! You’ll learn more about your alignment by catching yourself when you’re standing in a queue or waiting for something else. Do your hips stick out to the side? Is there even weight on both feet? How are your feet aligned – turned out or in? Is there more weight in your toes or your heels?
When you walk up and down stairs do you turn your feet out (or in)? Or even walk sideways on stairs? Can you walk up a slope or a hill with your feet parallel?
If you turn your feet out (or in) then the force of each footstep doesn't follow a neat, strong line up your leg into your hips. Instead your knee might twist a little and put more pressure on one side and ligament than the other. Or your thigh bone will twist inside your hip and press the inside of your hip socket at an angle. The pressure through your feet will go across not along those little bones.
Bones grow stronger in response to pressure. If the pressure is straight through your bones, then they'll be more resilient. If the pressure is off at an angle, then bones grow at odd angles and form bunions and bone spurs. Ouch!
Essential body engineering to walk up slopes with aligned feet
So if you’re turning your feet as you walk up a slope, what can you do to re-build your alignment?
Toe flex. You need flexible feet to be able to push back behind you without bouncing up. Practice tucking your toes under when you’re on all fours and gradually moving your weight back towards your heels. Stay comfortable. If you stop breathing you’ve gone too far. Go barefoot when you can and wiggle and stretch your toes. Follow the foot stretches online
Calf stretch. Your calves need to be long enough for you to stand with your toes above your heels. Not surprisingly, after a lifetime of wearing shoes with heels and sitting on chairs, your calves are probably short. You’ll avoid a lot of pain and injury including plantar fasciitis when your muscles are a functional length. This practice is on youtube
Hip release. If you sit a lot then your hips can get stuck in a chair shape with the thigh coming towards you. The beginning of stretching is learning to let go. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and as you breathe, focus on softening around your navel and the front of your hips. The introduction sequence we use in yoga class is on youtube and aims to release the hip joints and lower back.
Sit on the floor more often!