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