No Mats Necessary and Other YHDC Details

Do I need to bring a mat?  Can I participate if I’m new to yoga?  How far do we hike?Danielle on YogaHike 1

All good questions and we appreciate you asking!

The most commonly asked question to date has definitely been, “Do I need to bring a mat?”  Great news!  You do NOT need to bring a yoga mat with you!  During a Yoga Hike we want you to have an active cardio experience, so your arms and legs need to be free to move unencumbered.  Also, if you’ve practiced yoga outside you know that a mat is not always that helpful and sometimes messy.  What is helpful are our handy mat squares, which provide a good barrier between your bottom and the ground.  Your instructor will have mat squares for everyone to use at the final YogaStop.  That said, the choice to take a seated or full savasana on the ground is up to the comfort level of each individual participant.

Another popular question has been about the level of the yoga.  Yoga Hikes is an open level vinyasa flow yoga format.  Open level yoga means that our yoga practice is accessible to beginners and more advanced yoga practitioners.   Is it helpful to have some prior exposure to yoga?  Sure!  But if  you are new to yoga, a Yoga Hike is a great way to learn.  At the same time, more experienced yogis will be invited to take more advanced versions of poses during the flow and are encouraged to make the practice their own.

Finally, (at least for this post) are the questions about the duration and intensity of the hiking.  You can currently sign up for 90 minutes Yoga Hikes and coming soon, 2 hour Yoga Hikes.  During a 90 minute hike you will likely get in about 45 minutes of hiking in 3 fifteen minute intervals (though this varies depending on the route and location of our Yoga Stops).  As for intensity, this is an outdoor fitness workout.  The hiking is our cardio work, so we keep a comfortable, but steady hiking pace.  Keeping pace with the group is important in order to maintain the workout and get to all of our YogaStops in time!

From time to time we will offer a more restorative Yoga Hike with a leisurely pace and restorative postures.  If you like the idea of going on a Yoga Hike, but would prefer a more leisurely pace, consider organizing a private hike.  Private Yoga Hikes can be tailored to meet the needs and interest of the group.  For more information on private hikes or other questions about the Yoga Hikes, please email or tweet @YogaHikes


The Making of an Urban Yoga Hike

When you go on a Yoga Hike, there are several things we want to be sure you experience.

  • a great yoga flow
  • a good dose of heart pumping cardio, and
  • a really good time outdoors

For these things to occur, its important that the trails we select offer the perfect mix of inclines and interest!  Urban Yoga Hikes are roughly 90 minutes and we want to maximize that time and get you moving through the city.  We start with 15 minutes of yoga at our first “Yoga Stop” and then hike for approximately 15 minutes to get to our next Yoga Stop and repeat this rotation.

The first priority is to find Yoga Stops that are both special and functional places.  On a Nature Hike you can expect to stop in open fields, along the river, or clearings in the woods.  Urban Hikes have more variables!  On Urban Hikes we’ll bring you to public green spaces that offer natural beauty and ample space for participants to stretch out and move.  Of course, practicing yoga in the city means hearing and seeing kids playing, dogs barking, and cars driving by…but you’ll also enjoy the sky above and the dirt and grass beneath your feet.  Combined, it’s all great energy for your practice!

Secondly, we want you to see something new on every hike.  We opt for side streets that are quiet and charming and pull us away from the traffic of downtown.  If we can take you down a street with great architecture, historic homes, or public art that you’ve never noticed before, all the better!

With all of this in mind, we’re very excited about our Dupont/Kalorama Urban Yoga Hike.  On this hike you’ll climb the Spanish Steps, pass the home of the French Ambassador, and possibly flow to the sounds of a pick up basketball on the court at Kalorama Park.  In fact, we’re so pleased with this trail, we thought we’d give you a sneak peak!

Dupont Circle fountain

Spanish Steps full (592x800)

Mitchell Park Circle (800x600)







French Amassador's residence (800x600)Bench in Kalorama Park

Kalorama Recreation Center
Starting in mid-May 2013, you can sign up to join us for this Dupont/Kalorama Urban Hike (90 minutes) on select weeknights .  You can also pull together your own group and schedule a privately guided hike with us.  For more information email or call (202) 670-6120

See you on a Yoga Hike!



How My Yoga Practice Made it’s Way into the Woods

Surrounded by lush green vegetation with the sound of the waves in the distance, I experienced my first full yoga class outdoors and it was transformative. Moving through our poses amid the fresh air and beauty of the outdoors seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I remember saying, “I would practice yoga every day, if it was outdoors!”

My first exposure to yoga was at my gym in a dimly lit mirrored room.  My gaze drifted from my reflection, to the instructor, to those seasoned students doing advanced expressions of each pose.  I struggled to focus solely on the instructor’s verbal cues and instead found myself following those around me.  When we finally transitioned from standing flow to our bellies, I was grateful.  I took a quick peek at my watch for a time check, not much longer.  Finally, we made our way into savasana.  I wondered how long it would last and used the time to make a mental grocery list of what I needed to pick up at Trader Joes after class.

It wasn’t a bad class or a weak instructor, it was me.  I didn’t know the poses physically or by name.  I had no idea what it meant to be present in a yoga class or at the gym in general.  Yoga seemed painfully slow to a cardio-lover like myself.  For a long time I thought that yoga just might not be for me.

Shortly after this experience I went on a  surfing vacation to Cost Rica.  While there, I was convinced to take an outdoor yoga class in Montezuma.  Surrounded by lush green vegetation with the sound of the waves in the distance, I experienced my first full yoga class outdoors and it was transformative.  Moving through our poses amid the fresh air and beauty of the outdoors seemed like the most natural thing in the world.  I remember saying, “I would practice yoga every day, if it was outdoors!”

Many years and many yoga classes later (both indoor and outdoor), I am putting those words into action and combing two of my favorite activities, yoga and hiking!  Spending time outdoors with friends has always been a big part of my lifestyle.  As an avid runner and hiker I am out on the trails several times a week.   As yoga became more a part of my routine, I would find myself taking breaks at favorite spots in the woods and along the river to enjoy a little yoga before getting back on the trail.  It wasn’t long before I realized how complimentary these two activities are together.

Yoga Hikes makes for a fun, active, outdoor yoga experience that can be enjoyed anyone.  It breaks down a 45-60 minute open-level yoga practice into short intervals and integrates them into a 90 min. – 2 hour hike.   It’s a combination of nature, accessible yoga, and cardio in a small group atmosphere.

It’s funny to think back to those days when I dragged myself to yoga, but I’m so glad I did.  I have grown to love my gym yoga, my studio yoga, and my outdoor yoga experiences.  There are many ways to practice yoga and part of the journey is finding the way that speaks to your mind and your body.   Finding my way led me to start Yoga Hikes DC, an experience I hope others will find as enjoyable as I do!

Danielle M. Reyes in Washington, DC