The Yoga of Walking
Because walking encourages you to be in the present moment, the yoga of walking is a holistic practice in mindfulness and reconnects you to yourself. In fact, walking meditation is a regular part of living in an ashram; and a brisk walk at dawn is a recommended routine in the science of Ayurveda. What’s best is that anyone can do it, regardless of age, physical ability or body type.
The Benefits of Walking
In addition to being a spiritual, therapeutic and meditative experience, walking has a multitude of physical and mental benefits that cannot be understated.
- Cardiovascular conditioning.
- Gentle on the knees and joints (unlike jogging or running).
- Burns calories.
- Helps in weight loss.
- Increases circulation.
- Builds strength and bone density.
- Improves stamina.
- Boosts immunity.
- Aides digestion.
- Alleviates arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Reduces the risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Relieves stress and tension.
- Resets circadian rhythms, thus improving the quality of sleep.
- Promotes mental clarity.
- Creates positivity and calmness.
- Lightens the mood.
- Releases endorphins, serotonin and other ‘happy’ chemicals through the elevated intake of oxygen, fresh air and sunlight.
How to Walk Mindfully
You don’t need to go out of town or find a hiking trail to take a walk. Strolling through a park or a few blocks through your neighbourhood works just as good! Moreover, walking doesn’t require planning, preparation, equipment or any kind of skill. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes. In fact, some practices such as earthing, forest bathing, nature therapy and Shinrin-Yoku encourage you to walk barefoot so that you absorb the earth’s energy though the soles of your feet.
Do not try to control your thoughts and feelings; simply observe them.Before you start, consciously relax your shoulders, neck, forehead, jaw or anywhere you may hold tension. Take a deep breath and become aware of where you are at that particular moment. Listen to everything around you – the wind, the traffic, the passing voices, the silence, whatever it may be. Very importantly, do not try to control your thoughts and feelings; simply observe them.
As you start walking, bring your attention to your breathing. Inhale and exhale through the nose and activate your core. As you inhale, your diaphragm moves down; as you exhale, your diaphragm moves up.
Allow the walk to be a form of self-therapy.Now synchronize your breath with your stride. For example, take three steps with each inhale and three with each exhale. In addition to inviting a sense of serenity, this rhythm balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Above all, the essence of the yoga of walking is mindfulness. So with each stride, stay conscious of your environment. Let your thoughts come and go as they will, like a free-flowing river. Don’t be afraid to talk to yourself or to allow the walk to be a form of self therapy. You’ll be surprised at the amazing solutions and revelations that appear out of thin air!
Inspiring Quotes about Walking
Here is a little collection of uplifting and motivational sayings about the yoga of walking that will inspire you to take the first step…
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees.” – Henry David Thoreau
“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” – Mary Davis
“Walk towards the good in life and one day you will arrive.” – Atticus
“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.” – G. M. Trevelyan
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
“Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.” – John Mayer
“Writing is one way of making the world our own, and . . . walking is another.” – Geoff Nicholson
“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I have been.” – A.A. Milne
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Oh, I love your website and the article about walking. I love this kind of exercise and I do it as much a possible. Reading your post gives it deeper meaning I have never thought before.
And the quotes – as I am a tree lover I appreciate the one from David Thoreau (I also read some book from him and it was awesome), so it really starts to connect my walking trips with more meaning in my life.
Happy to come to your website, thank you, thank you, thank you again for this great post. It really makes my day brighter!
I like Henry David Thoreau too. He really has a succinct way with words that makes his writing so simple, yet so deep.
I’m glad this article brightened your day, Renata!
Those quotes are marvelous! Very inspirational, as is your article. I practice mindfullness for almost 10 years now, but mindfull walking is definitely something I still haven’t mastered. I love my daily hikes, but as soon as I am well on my way I am caught in thoughts. 🙂
It’s a good thing that usually my husband walks with me. He is very good in mindfull walking, although he will never call it that way. So when I am drifting off too far, he points a bird at me, or the mandarine trees. Or tells me to smell the air.
I should be able to do that myself as well. I will, in time, I’ll just keep on practising 🙂
Allowing your mind to wander and drift off can sometimes be a good thing, Hannie! Especially during walking meditation.
Because it works beneath the surface, you could discover revelations that you never would have come to had you consciously tried. Don’t look too hard, let go of the reins and trust your intuition!
I recently started walking in the morning for the health benefit. I’ve always enjoyed walking, and several years ago when living next to a park, I’d take a walk through the park simply to clear my head. This was many years ago before I’d even heard of yoga or mindfulness; I simply enjoyed the sights and sounds of the park as I walked.
Next walk I will try to synchronize my breath with my stride. Glad I came upon this article as it has given me the motivation to keep my morning walks up, even as it is heading into cooler weather where I live.
I’m a quote person as well, so I enjoyed those here also.
See, you were practicing mindfulness and meditation without even realizing that you were!
Keep at it, Willow! 🙂
I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your yoga walking post. I always get super excited whenever see a personal growth information. And it looks like I’ve come to the right place for that. I have gained so much knowledge about the benefits of walking. Of all the paths you taken in life, make sure some of them are dirt.” This quote is deep and inspirational.
Yes, it is a very inspirational quote indeed! Glad to have you stop by, Habib!
Hey Andrea, we are blessed with some great walks only a couple of minutes from my house. River one side and the woods the other.
I have spent many an hour running through these woods which are quite extensive but I have also spent a number of hours walking as well to clear the head.
Great first thing or last thing just before dark although there is something special about walking through the woods in the dark.
I practice Reiki and Meditate a lot but applying that to walks I haven’t tried but will certainly give it a go.
Great article and thank you for sharing
You’re welcome Mick.. I too am lucky enough to have a lot of amazing parks and trails where I live. Take good advantage of it!
Omg! I totally needed this. I didn’t know that walking is a form of yoga meditation. Of course, when I walk, I am everywhere EXCEPT in the present moment. As a matter of fact, I once was so out of it when I was walking, I had stepped off the curb and almost got hit by a bus! Jesus. Yes, i can use this mindful walking yoga meditation. I love walking through Cental Park in the early morning hours. It’s super peaceful. I will try your suggestions.
Hi Shalisha! Yes, please do try mindful walking. But be careful!! 🙂
Great article, and I love the advice about breathing along with your steps, well three steps in and three steps out really. I’m in poor health right now and I need to get out and walk more often. My wife does most of the care for our dogs because of my seizures, but my seizures aren’t happening as frequently. I need to try and join her for the morning walk.
My favorite quote about walking was missing:
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Hi Sean, thanks for sharing J.R.R. Tolkien’s quote, that’s definitely another good one!
Take care of your health!
This is a lovely article and could be very helpful to me. As we are in lockdown again in the UK, I will be going on many walks to get out of the house for a few minutes. But I am definitely going to be using your techniques so I can be mindful while walking. Yoga waking is something I have never heard of but I really want to share with my family and friends. Especially my parents because I think they would really benefit from this during their daily walks together and on their own.
Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.
All the best,
Thanks Tom, enjoy the walks!
Great post Andrea,
I meditate daily and have heard of walking meditations, which your walking yoga post seems to deal with very eloquently! The balancing of the left and right hemispheres is something I’m actually practicing as part of my meditation routines so incorporating a walking yoga/meditation is a no brainer – plus it’s a great time for affirmations as I’ve read that when the left and right hemispheres are balanced, your subconscious is primed for programming 🙂
Couldn’t have worded it better, Gareth.
Thanks for stopping by!
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – This is one the most real quotes I’ve ever come across, and there’s a good reason for that.
Long walks are therapeutic for me. I usually avoid city walks and head directly to the nearest mountain range (20min. car ride). I don’t live in an ideal city for walks, so that’s why I prefer to avoid the hectic city life whenever I have the chance.
Thanks for taking the time to craft such a fantastic post. I had a blast reading it!
Thank you Gorjan. I also find that walking is very therapeutic for me; and I too prefer nature to city scenes. I’m happy that you enjoyed this article!
Thank you for this great article on Yoga Walking!
I really like how you mentioned the practice of walking barefoot(earthing). I only started performing this practice occasionally 2 years ago, and had to build up the padding under my feet at first. However, it is such a nice way to connect and become mindful with the surrounding environment.
Thank you again for another great article!!!
I love your website!!!
Thanks Giuseppe. It’s always a pleasure to read your comments!
I enjoyed this post as enjoy walking. I always try to make it part of my daily routine. I can totally relate to what you’re saying, and find it a very mindful activity. The idea of walking at dawn sounds great, though not in mid winter! I never realised walking has so many health benefits including boosting immunity. I always knew it was good for relieving stress though. As someone who had a stroke 6 years ago, I make myself walk briskly as it helps with recovery. I’ll certainly use your tips of relaxing and letting go of tension before setting out for my next walk. I often find my shoulders and neck get quite tense. In addition, I’ll try to synchronise my breath with my strides. Thank you for sharing
You’re welcome Kathy! Hope you have a complete and speedy recovery!