Yoga for Hikers

Andria Baldovin
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Yoga

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it twice.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains 2 short, distinct yoga sessions, a breathing practice, and a how to segment on meditation, all designed by a hiker for hikers, as the back cover states. Andria’s stated goals are to help you strengthen the lower body, especially the feet, ankles, knees, thighs, hips, and buttocks; the core; and the upper body. You’ll also stretch your lower body muscles, especially those of the calves, quadriceps and hip flexors, hips, and buttocks, and your upper body, especially your upper back. And you’ll strengthen your lung capacity and clear your mind.

- Meditation is a short informational segment on how to meditate while hiking, with the goal of clearing your mind and bringing your attention to the present moment by focusing on your breath, then noticing the sounds, sights, and even smells around you.
- Pranayama (3+ min.) is supposed to increase your endurance and lung capacity. A screen before Session I and II encourages you to do this before each practice. Done seated, you’ll focus on your diaphragm as you breathe through your nose into your abdomen. Andria introduces the technique, and then encourages you to keep going on your own.

- Session I (27.5 min.) is gentler, designed to be used on days you hike; it also makes a great session to wind down after a long walk, exercise session, or even a long day. Poses include tadasana (mountain), focusing on proper alignment, especially in the feet; utkatasana (powerful pose); virabhadrasana I (warrior I) and parsvottanasana (pyramid); prasarita padottanasana (wide angle [standing forward] bend); parsvakonasana (side stretch); vrksasana (tree); uttanasana([standing] forward bend); [low] lunges (almost a crescent lunge); adho mukha svanasana (down dog); balasana (child’s pose); supta padangusthasana (leg stretches – 2 variations); hip stretch I (a reclined twist); hip stretch II (sometimes called reclined pigeon); and savasana (corpse or rest). Andria guides you into savasana and, as with the pranayama, then tells you to stay down longer.
- Session II (28.5 min.) is a little more challenging and designed to be used as preparation for your hikes. Poses include yoga crunches and leg lifts; setu bandha [sarvangasana] (bridge); salambhasana (locust); plank (or the top part of chaturanga dandasana); virabhadrasana II (warrior II); virabhadrasana III (warrior III); garudasana (eagle); vasisthasana (side arm balance, also known as side plank); balasana (child’s); eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon); dadasana (staff); marichyasana (sage twist); and savasana (corpse or rest). Here again Andria guides you into the savasana, where you’re to stay down longer on your own.
Both yoga practices are a series of poses rather than a flow; you’ll do a pose or two, on both sides if applicable, then come back to a neutral position to recenter before moving on. The pace is measured, with poses held for a few moments, but never too long.

Level: I’d recommend this to somewhat active folks who may have a few yoga sessions under their belt already. Andria says this is appropriate for all levels of hikers and yogis, but I think this would appeal most to weekend hikers looking to establish a somewhat regular yoga practice to help strengthen and stretch their body so they can hike better and recover faster. This feels like a rather non-intimidating, practical way to dip one’s toes into yoga. In fact, I’d be comfortable letting my dh, a somewhat active person who’s taken a few yoga classes, do this one if he ever decided to he needs to do something so he’s not as stiff or sore after hiking.
I’ve been practicing yoga for 8 or so years now, and for several reasons I’m kind of at a perpetual beginner / intermediate to low intermediate level of yoga (I don’t practice intermediate plus poses like headstands and many arm balances – not an issue with this video!). I’m an occasional hiker; I’m more of a moderate partial to half-day hike type (although I’ve done an insane hike through the Peruvian Andes, I’m just not the hardcore backpacker type). I found this program on the basic side for me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I appreciate a good back to basics and simple, straightforward practice, especially one specifically designed to complement an activity. But because I have an extensive yoga collection I’m not sure how much new and different this one brings to what I already have, although I feel it’s worth keeping around, especially if my dh could find it useful.

Class: Andria is alone as she demonstrates all poses, with instruction via voiceover.

Music: atmospheric sounds (of the type that you’d find on a show with slow mo shots of satellites floating through space), although a kind of funky, jazzy tune with instrumentals plays during the Intro. It’s not particularly intrusive, and I’m able to tune it out as I got into the practices, but I wouldn’t complain if it had been even quieter in relation to Andria’s voice.

Set: For Session I, Andria practices on either a rocky mountain top with trees visible in the distance or near a pool at the bottom of a waterfall; in Session I she practices in the desert Southwest. Brief clips of Andria and other people (both men and women) hiking appear in between poses in Session II and are interspersed elsewhere in the DVD. The site credits list Pisgah National Forest, NC; Shining Rock Wilderness, NC; Linville Gorge Wilderness, NC; Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN; Indian Peaks Wilderness, CO; Moab, UT; and Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.

Production: clear picture and decent sound. I agree the video editing during the intro parts is a little much, but fortunately there’s not so much going on during the practices themselves. This is along the lines of Erich Schiffmann’s Backyard Series, Tilak Pyle’s Altar of the Heart, etc.: think nicely done labor of love rather than flashy big budget production.
From time to time inset shots will show a modification, often involving a prop. These are nicely done: just big enough so you can see what’s going on, not so big they block Andria doing the main pose.

Equipment: a yoga sticky mat and probably also a strap (or tie, towel, belt, etc.). You might also want a chair, wall, or something to hold onto for balance if you need it, and you might also want a blanket or towel if you have trouble sitting upright. Andria is barefoot for the yoga (although she wears shades during Session II – an option if you’re also out in the blinding sun).

Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with arms and legs extended plus move around your mat comfortably while standing. With a few changes in position you won’t need much more floorspace than your yoga mat.

DVD Notes: The main menu pops right up with Full Video, Introduction, Meditation, Pranayama, Session I, Session II, and Pose Menu. Note that the music that accompanies the main menu is on a very short loop, which comes into play if you stay down for a longer, since as soon as a chapter ends it comes back to the main menu unless you’ve picked Full Video.
This appears to be a pressed DVD rather than a DVD+/-R.

Comments: I’d also recommend reading the thread “Yoga for Hikers,” complete with Eibhinn’s excellent review of this video, on VF:

I’d like to recommend that hikers check out Jill Miller’s Feet & Calves bonus on her Tension Tune Down Mini Series CD and/or the two segments for Feet, Ankles, and Calves on her Quickfix Rx DVD. These will be the icing on the cake of releasing tension in your muscles after a hike. (I also like Jill’s Post Athletic Stretch Routine – Running for after long walks / hikes, too.)

Instructor Comments:
Andria has a pleasant voice, with just a hint of a Southern accent. She speaks in a straightforward manner, using plain language and only a few (obvious) similes / metaphors, like how it’s important to stand up straight and strong like a mountain in mountain pose. She uses both Sanskrit and English names for poses.
Andria presents things in an accessible way that acknowledges the individual benefits each pose has – after she names the next pose, she’ll provide a brief synopsis of its benefits to hikers (e.g. saying this pose will release the tension you might have in your upper back from carrying your pack) – yet this doesn’t feel like a “yoga as exercise” video. What I’m trying to say is that if you like Karen Voight, Sage Rountree, and people like that, who find a way to bring yoga to Western athletes without jettisoning yoga’s roots, traditions, etc., you’ll like Andria’s approach. (She’s not like Tari Rose of Hard Body Yoga, Anthony Carillo of Iron Yoga, or Jillian Michales of Yoga Meltdown, whose videos feel more like exercise programs that happen to use yoga poses.)
Andria cues for her right and left.