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Backpacking Fitness

11 Yoga Poses You Can Do in a Tent

Weather trapped you inside? Limber up and quiet your mind with these easy poses.

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Fact: We don’t go hiking to sit inside a tent, but sometimes, the weather doesn’t give us a choice. And after hours of sitting inside a 28-square-foot bubble of B.O., listening to rain tapping against the flimsy nylon walls, it’s easy to see how the experience would fray anyone’s nerves.

What’s worse is that sitting still for hours after a workout can actually be harmful to major muscle groups. Lactic acid build-up can cause muscle soreness, stiffness, and fatigue when hikers don’t stretch after a long haul, turning your backpacking trip into a death march.

This series of 10 yoga poses is designed to help wilderness lovers stay limber in mind and body, even when the weather keeps you zippered up. Bust them out on a deflated sleeping pad or bag liner to protect the tent’s flooring. 

Finish off your session with a 5-10 minute seated meditation or a Corpse Pose (Savasana) by lying down along your mat, letting go of any prescribed breathing patterns, and quieting your mind.

The aim of any yoga practice is to create space and to allow that physical space to transform into emotional and mental space. Not only will the physical benefits of this practice lessen muscle fatigue and soreness, but the mental clarity brought on by taking 30-60 minutes for self-care will make room for the focus and emotional energy you need to engage in intense outdoor activities. 

11 Yoga Poses You Can Do in a Tent

tent yoga
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

Weather trapped you inside? Limber up and quiet your mind with these easy poses.

Start Here: Child’s Pose (Balasana)

childs yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

This is your home base: If you need to re-center your mind or take a break from the more intense poses, return here. Spread your knees as wide as your mat or sleeping pad, and carefully bend them until you’re sitting on your feet. Relax your head and let your arms extend forward. Breathe. 

Cat and Cow Poses (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)

cat yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

This gentle spine warm-up will ease you into the rest of the sequence. Get onto your hands and knees, pressing through your palms to round your spine. Begin to arch your back, beginning with the space between your shoulder blades; be careful not to dump pressure into your lower back. Look up. Repeat this cycle 4-5 times, moving with your breath.

High Lunge

high lunge yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

From all fours, carefully step your right leg back, coming into a high lunge. Be mindful to keep your left outer hip hugging into its socket as you square off your pelvis and look forward. You will feel this in your hip flexors and groin. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Half Splits Pose (Ardha Hanumanasana)

half splits yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

From a high lunge, bend your back leg while simultaneously straightening your front leg without locking the knee. Leading with your chest and keeping your chin up, slowly begin to fold over your front leg. Keep the front foot flexed to increase the deep hamstring stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Low Lunge Twist

low lunge twist yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

Come back into a high lunge position with your right leg back and your left leg forward. Bend your back knee until it reaches the floor. Add a nice quad stretch and back twist by keeping your right palm on the floor and grabbing your right toes with your left hand. More intense option: Bend your right elbow until you are resting on your right forearm and actively pull your foot closer to your left gluteus to stretch tight quads. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Revolved Head to Knee Pose (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana)

revolved head to knee yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

From a seated position, bend your left leg into the midline of your body and extend your right leg to the side at about a 90-degree angle. Start with a forward fold over the right leg. Next (pictured), bend your right arm against the straight leg and rotate your upper body towards the sky, turning your neck to look up. You should feel a pretty powerful stretch through your obliques at this point. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

seated forward fold yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of your hips. On your next exhale, hinge from your hips (not your waist), as though you were trying to reach your heart to your feet. Fold forward and grab as far down as you can—shins, toes, feet— before finally rounding your head down. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

Thread the Needle

thread the needle yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

This is an incredible hip opener and stretch for tight IT bands. Lay on your back with both knees bent and cross your left ankle onto your right knee (keep your left foot flexed). Lift your right foot off the floor, bringing your knee towards your face and intensifying the stretch in your left outer hip. Reach your hands through the gap near your groin and clasp them around your right knee of thigh. Hold for 1 minute before repeating on the other side.

Single Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

pigeon yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

Start on your hands and knees. Carefully take your right foot across the front of your makeshift mat and towards your left wrist. Keep your right foot flexed at all times to protect your knee. Slowly begin to straighten your left leg back, keeping your hips squared towards your right shin. You will feel an intense stretch through your right hip socket. You can look up and arch your back, leading with your heart center (pictured), or find a more reclined version of the pose by folding forward over your bent front leg. Hold for 1 minute and repeat on the other side.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

lord of fishes yoga pose
Photo by J.C. Argetsinger

This gentle twist will help you cool down. From a seated position, bend both knees towards your chest and carefully slide your right leg under your left hip. Leading with your heart, twist over your left shoulder, propping your right elbow against the outside of your left knee for stability. Support a strong, straight spine by rooting through your left fingertips on the ground. Turn your chin to face over your left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.