5 Yoga Poses for Your Tent: Part 3

Brett "Grandpa" Kretzer

Welcome to part 3 of yoga poses that you can perform in your tent. Dedicating just a few minutes a day to stretching on a backpacking trip can significantly improve your physical wellbeing and reduce your chance of injury.

When practicing yoga, remember to always take it slow and listen to your body. Focus on the sensations rather than the aesthetic of each pose, and don’t be afraid to back off if you’re experiencing any pain.

For more yoga poses that you can do in your tent, check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Half Splits (Ardha Hanumanasana)

Half splits pose helps to promote relaxation and flexibility in the calves, hamstrings, and lower back. As hikers, we can’t show too much love to our legs. This pose, among many others, will help your weary hiking muscles relax before heading to bed.

Starting Position: 

  • Begin in a low lunge position with your right foot forward and your left knee on the ground. Ensure your right knee is directly above your right ankle and not extending past your toes. Your back leg should be extended straight behind you with the top of your left foot pressing into the ground.

Lengthen Your Spine:

  • Inhale and lengthen your spine, reaching the crown of your head toward the sky.
  • Engage your core muscles to support your lower back.

Forward Fold: 

  • Slowly begin to straighten your right leg, gently shifting your hips back as you extend your front leg. 
  • Flex your right foot, pointing the toes towards the sky. 
  • Keep your spine long as you hinge forward from your hips and gently walk your hands forward on either side of your right leg. 
  • As a beginner, it's normal if you can't straighten your front leg completely. Remember not to force it.


  • Breathe deeply and evenly as you hold the pose. 
  • With each inhalation, focus on lengthening your spine and opening up through the chest. 
  • With each exhalation, allow any tension in your muscles to release.

Hold and Repeat: 

  • Hold Ardha Hanumanasana for several breaths.
  • To release, gently bend your right knee and return to the low lunge position. Repeat the pose on the opposite side, starting with your left foot forward.

Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Here is another glute and outer thigh stretch for you. I’m quite partial to stretches that focus on the outer thigh because I’m prone to IT band inflammation on long hikes, and this pose really helps my knees feel strong and healthy. Pigeon pose will also help to increase your hip mobility and target your psoas muscle and hip flexors.

Starting Position:

  • Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

Set Up the Pose:

  • Slide your right knee forward towards your right wrist. 
  • Slide your right ankle towards your left wrist as much as is comfortable. You can keep your knee bent quite a bit, or you can strive to make your shin parallel to the front of your mat. 
  • Extend your left leg straight out behind you, with your toes pointing backward.
  • Ensure your right foot is flexed to protect your knee.
  • Keep your hips square to the front of your mat. You can use your sleeping pad or rolled up puffy under your right hip if it doesn't rest comfortably on the floor.

Option 1: Stay Upright:

  • If you're feeling a deep stretch, you can stay upright, propping yourself up with your hands for support.
  • Engage your core to protect your lower back and keep your spine long.

Option 2: Fold Forward:

  • If you feel comfortable, you can slowly walk your hands forward and lower your upper body towards the floor.
  • Rest your forehead on the mat if it reaches comfortably.
  • Relax your neck, shoulders, and jaw.

Breathe and Relax:

  • Take slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose. Allow your body to relax into the pose with each exhale.
  • Focus on releasing any tension you may be holding in your hips and lower back.

Hold and Release:

  • Hold the pose for about 5-10 breaths, or longer if it feels comfortable.
  • To release the pose, gently press into your hands and slowly walk them back towards your body.
  • Lift your hips and slide your right knee back, returning to the tabletop position.

Switch Sides:

  • Repeat the pose on the other side by sliding your left knee forward and extending your right leg back.

Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana)

As hikers, we spend most of our day hunched over, hauling our packs up long ascents. This action compresses and contorts our spine. Sphinx pose offers an excellent counter stretch to lengthen the spine, strengthen the lower back, and even stimulate the abdominal organs.

Starting Position:

  • Begin by lying down on your stomach.
  • Extend your legs back behind you, about hip-width apart.

Arm Placement:

  • Place your forearms on the mat, parallel to each other and shoulder-width apart.
  • Your elbows should be positioned directly under your shoulders.
  • Check that your elbows are aligned with your wrists.
  • Spread your fingers wide for stability and support.

Press Into Forearms:

  • Press firmly into your forearms and lift your chest and upper body off the mat.
  • Engage your core muscles to support your lower back.

Relax the Shoulders:

  • Relax your shoulders away from your ears and draw your shoulder blades down your back.
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position, with your gaze directed slightly forward.

Spine Alignment:

  • Lengthen your spine by reaching the crown of your head forward, creating space between each vertebra.
  • Keep your hips grounded and avoid overarching your lower back. Imagine lengthening your tailbone toward your heels.


  • Take slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose. Allow your breath to flow smoothly and naturally.

Hold the Pose:

  • Hold Sphinx Pose for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Focus on the sensations in your spine, chest, and shoulders. Notice any areas of tension and try to release them with each exhale.

To Release:

  • Slowly lower your chest and upper body back down to the mat.
  • Rest your forehead on your hands or turn your head to one side to release any tension in your neck.

Yogi Squat (Malasana)

Malasana will help with mobility in your knees, hips, ankles, and calves to help keep them from stiffening up after a long day of ascending, descending, and rock hopping. Bonus: squatting is also said to help with digestion.

  • Starting Position:
        • Begin in a table top position with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Squat and Pray:
        • Push your weight back onto your feet.
        • Bend your knees and lower your hips down toward the ground, coming into a deep squat.
        • Point your toes slightly outward at about a 45-degree angle and keep your heels grounded on the mat as much as possible.
        • Bring your palms together in front of your chest in a prayer position, with your elbows pressing against the inner thighs.
  • Lengthen Your Spine:
        • Lengthen your spine by lifting your chest and drawing your shoulder blades down your back.
        • Keep your gaze forward.
  • Engage and Deepen:
        • Engage your core muscles to support your lower back and pelvis.
        • Use your elbows to press gently against your inner thighs, deepening the stretch in your hips and groin.
  • Breathe:
        • Take slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose.
  • Hold the Pose:
        • Hold Malasana for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
        • Focus on relaxing into the pose and releasing any tension in your hips and lower back.
  • To Release:
      • To come out of the pose, place your hands on the mat behind you and lower your butt to the ground.
      • Extend your legs out in front of you.
      • Shake out your legs and take a moment to notice how your body feels.

    Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

    This is a variation on Ardha Matsyendrasana in which only one knee is bent, and the other is left straight. A spinal twist is an incredibly important pose to have in your yoga tool box. Like sphinx pose, it helps support flexibility in the spine and strengthen the muscles that support your vertebrae. Just as importantly, twists gently massage your internal organs – stomach, kidneys, intestines – which help with digestion and the filling of catholes.

  • Starting Position:
      • Begin by sitting on your mat with your legs extended in front of you.
      • Sit up tall, lengthening your spine, and engage your abdominal muscles for support.
  • Leg Positioning:
      • Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the mat on the outside of your left knee.
      • Keep your right knee pointing up towards the sky.
  • Spinal Rotation:
      • Inhale and lengthen your spine.
      • Exhale and twist your torso to the right, bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
      • Place your right hand on the floor behind you for support.
      • Turn your head to look over your right shoulder.
      • Soften your gaze and relax your facial muscles.
  • Breathing:
      • On each inhale, lengthen through your spine, lifting your chest and reaching the crown of your head towards the sky.
      • On each exhale, deepen the twist slightly, using the pressure of your elbow against your knee to help facilitate the rotation.
  • Hold and Release:
      • Hold the pose for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
      • To release the pose, slowly unwind from the twist, returning to the center with your spine tall.
  • Switch Sides:
      • Repeat the twist on the opposite side.

    Thanks for reading! Remember – take it easy when learning a new pose and don’t hesitate to do some more research or reach out to a fellow yogi if something doesn’t feel right. Best of luck on your next hike, and I hope tent yoga enhances your journey!



    Brett is a bluegrass musician, outdoorsman, and writer currently based in Golden, CO. He's backpacked thousands of miles in the U.S. and Europe and is always on the lookout for the next adventure. When not behind the writing desk, you can find him bagging peaks, climbing rocks, shredding powder, or jamming at a bluegrass festival.

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    love this post!

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