Fitness Tips: How to Prepare for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

This has been the most requested blog on Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY). I am penning it down finally and hope that it can help everyone planning to go for KMY. I have made it as elaborative as I can; explaining techniques for better preparation and therefore this is going to be a long blog

My Fitness Story of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

I will be honest. I didn’t get enough time to prepare for this Yatra because I wasn’t supposed to be here, at the first place. The decision to confirm me was taken at the last minute, which meant that I had approx. 2 weeks to prepare myself, both physically & mentally for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. This is the usual time needed to get the permits 🙂 In between; I lost three days because I fell sick, as my tonsils aggravated

Looking at the holy Mt. Kailash, considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Pic Credit- Abhinav Singh

Never in my life, I got scared traveling to any place but this time I was a bit nervous, as I didn’t get enough time for preparation. Fortunately, one of my friend who have completed this Yatra in 2014 told me that with my basic level of training in Yoga, I will be able to pull it off but truth be told I hasn’t been regular in Yoga for a while now

With whatever time I had in hand, I utilised in building my strength & work on breathing. Walking two hours daily and focusing on Pranayama. I never felt any altitude ever, as I do these breathing techniques often. My saviour, I guess 😉

The first day of the trek got challenging. We could start our Yatra around 3 PM from Darchin, which meant we needed to pace it, to reach Deraphuk before dawn. There is a danger of wild dogs during the night and therefore trekking during the dark should be avoided

Pacing it to reach Deraphuk – The North Face of Mt. Kailash

There were things that worked for me and I would credit my intense Yoga training for it. But after experiencing the terrain myself, I would advise a fitness routine of minimum 60-90 days, to be followed diligently. If it has worked for me, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. I had bouts of breathlessness on day 1 and therefore it is important that you build a fitness routine and work on it, before you think of going for KMY

I am sharing a basic fitness routine on how you can prepare yourself for this trek.

Also, please note I shall be giving a timing breakdown at the last with important instructions, so make sure that you read it carefully. I hope this can help you 🙂

Breathing Exercise: Very important. Since, this terrain takes you to a height above 15,000 feet, where you would stay most of the time, it is imperative that your body and lungs gets adjusted to the altitude. Most of the people face health issues at this terrain and considering majority of pilgrims going for KMY are above 50, it is important that you pay attention to the breathing practices and do it wholeheartedly for 3 months

Me sitting by the side of Lake Mansarovar. Pic Credit- Abhinav Singh

Pranayama is considered to be an effective tool when it comes to stimulating breath inside the body. So what you should do?

Kapalbati– Ratio of 2:1 which means 120 strokes in 60 seconds. Stop. Check. Breathe. This means that breathe only when it is required. Most likely, your body wouldn’t want to breathe for first few seconds

When to do: Early morning (Empty stomach or only water or Fruit eaten 30 minutes before doing this practice) or after 4 hours of eating food. Please avoid eating for 30 mins after doing this practice

Start with a count of 60 breathe, minimum 3 rounds. Increase, both the breathe count & rounds gradually. Not more than 5 rounds though

Bhasrika: Again very effective tool to pump the breathing flow in your body. Ratio: 1:1 which means 60 breathe in 60 seconds. Minimum- 3 rounds

Please note, if you are new to the practice of Pranayama, please don’t do Bhasrika for more than 20 breathe. There are factors which can go wrong, if you will push this practice. Breathlessness, Head Ache and High Blood Pressure being the primary factors. Stretch on the breathe count slowly

Anulom Vilom: The ancient practice of Anulom Vilom is another effective practice for breathing. Ratio- 1:2

Inhale at 6. Exhale at 12. But, doesn’t force breathe out of your nostril. Let it flow effortlessly. Minimum- 10 minutes. Start and finish it from the left nostril only

Please note, the combination of Kapalbati and Anulom Vilom is more than sufficient, to prepare your body for the terrain. You can avoid doing Bhasrika. I would recommend only people with experience in doing Pranayama, to include Bhasrika in your practice. In what manner it should be done, scroll down to understand the pattern

ShukshamVyam & Sthool Vyam: Both are an effective tool to open your body muscles. Frankly, I never knew what these technique can do to your body until my friend shared how it opened up her stiff body. They have remained an underrated technique for warm ups. But if done correctly, it helps opening body muscles and making it flexible. The process is slow though but really effective. So, practice these religiously

  • Neck Rotation
    • Clockwise-10
    • Anti clockwise- 10
    • Side bend- 10
    • Inverted-10
  • Shoulder rotation
    •  Clockwise- 10
    • Anti clockwise- 10
  • Hand rotation
    •  Clockwise- 10
    • Anti clockwise- 10
    • Stretch the fingers

Engine Daud or Run like an Engine: This might sound funny but this exercise under Sthoolvyam, really gives a pump of breathe to the entire body.

How to do: Stand Straight. Now decide which side of the body is most convenient for you to give a punch while running. The technique is run normally along with punch. And the hand you are using for the punch, should be the nostril from where you will keep exhaling. So, Run+Punch+Exhale- All goes together

Surya Namaskar/ Sun Salutation: 12 rounds. Minimum 10 minutes. Can be done during the morning or evening. If you are doing this practice during the evening, make sure that shouldn’t eat anything for 3 hours, prior to the practice

Exercise: This is really important again because the body need to sustain at an altitude above 15,000 feet. Apart from basic exercises, don’t forget doing the brisk walk for 5 kms every day. Since you would need to walk a lot on this terrain and brisk walk will give you an extra punch to move

Incase you want to relax your knees during the walk, then walk 20 steps and reverse 6 steps

Looking at Gauri Kund, where Ganesha is believed to be born. Pic Credit- Abhinav Singh

Pattern of Exercising should be:

  • Kalpalbati: 3 Rounds
  • Shuksham and Sthool Vyam- 5-7 minutes
  • Suryanamaskar/Walk – 10- 15 minutes
  • Shavasana or relax your body : 5 minutes
  • Bhasrika (optional)- 5 mins
  • Anulom Vilom- 5 minutes
  • Relax

Food Pattern: have you heard that you are a product of what you eat. Understand it!

Sattvic Food at Deraphuk. Behind is the North Face of Mt. Kailash. Pic Credit- Abhinav Singh

I will write a detailed post on how food actually impacts your body but for now, understand that preparing your body for an altitude, it is important that you consume the right food. Especially, after an age of 40 +

  • Switch to 70 percent of liquid and raw food- 30-45 days prior to the start of this trip. Make friends with fruits, salads, soups and boiled vegetables
  • Take only one proper meal during the day which can be your lunch.
  • Pay attention that you are drinking minimum of 4 litres of water every day.
  • During the trek, make sure to sip water every 10 minutes. It is least known that water helps the body to acclimatise better. Therefore keep sipping, even if you don’t feel like drinking due to the cold weather, keep sipping

Mental Strength: There was a moment during the trek when my physical body gave up. I felt breathless but this was the moment where I decided to sit for 10 minutes, close my eyes and prepared my mind to do it. Honestly, it hasn’t been my mental strength; I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I felt so much at ease trekking that I was wondering what I was doing. It was during this time that I could understand what mental strength can do you, as I tried pushing the others as well. All of us were drained 😛

My moment with Mt. Kailash. Pic Credit- Abhinav Singh

This terrain will challenge you beyond belief. Physical strength is important but mental strength is what will keep you going. So build it. Meditate and tell yourself that you can do it.

Believe that you can do it and you will do it. I wish everyone all the very best who will be taking this Yatra. Life changing experience indeed

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3 thoughts on “Fitness Tips: How to Prepare for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

  1. Beautiful blog ….. Nicely written.
    Written very simply….. but very nice.
    Love to read it 👍👍

  2. Pingback: Things to Keep in Mind while going for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) | Buoyant Feet

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