From those first faltering steps as we push ourselves upright, we all turn into walkers. We walk to our homes, to our schools, to our workplaces, our friend’s places, just around the block, in a garden, or, as it happens for most of us, from the car to our houses. To some of us, walking is a little bit more – it’s a challenge, a therapy, a morning routine, an after-dinner wind-down. The latter category holds walking very close to the heart: to such people, walking brings rewards that are both physical and psychological, satiating energy and emotional needs.
It may have been one such person who first thought of this idea, but now it is a well-known phenomenon that is trending world-wide. Walking is as simple as putting on your shoes and leaving your home, it requires no yoga mat, no quiet and calm, no special classes to hone your skills and no pre-planning required. Walking Yoga simply refers to incorporating some yoga poses into our walking routines, to get a few extra benefits to complement the ones that we already get from walking for exercise.
Here are some simple ways we can supplement our walk with Yoga poses. These tips work on both your body and mind so you can get the maximum advantage from your walk.
Start off at a brisk walk. Starting from the top of your head, move your attention down the length of your body with each of these steps. Rotate your shoulders, and move your heads up and down, left and right, to get your upper body mobile. Now move your thoughts to your lower torso – and do 10 counts of stomach breathing – push out your stomach when you inhale and pull in the stomach, allowing it to collapse completely while exhaling. Finally move your focus to your feet. With every step you take, use the opportunity to connect with the earth. Let all of your foot connect deeply with the ground, and mentally reinforce this connection by repeating the word “earth” within your mind.
Once you have done this, work up to a power walk. Walk at your fastest stride – one that you can sustain for about 10 minutes without tiring, or feeling out of breath. During this period – which you can continue for as long as you are comfortable – there are some visualization exercises that you can do. Divide your power walk roughly into thirds. During the first third, re-examine everything that angered, annoyed or irritated you recently. Go through the emotion, and as you take each step, imagine yourself purposefully striding away from the negative emotion, or imagine the emotions flowing down you and leaking away from you through your feet.
During the second part, allow healing colors to flow your body. They can be the colors of the rainbow, or simply your favorite colors. With each colors, focus on various aches, and pains – which can be actual injuries, or negative emotions and thoughts. Let the healing colors remove all negativity from you and leave you feeling cleansed.
Finally, during the third part, give yourself a positive, energizing pep talk. Alternatively, you can think of some goal or end you want to achieve for the day, and strongly visualize positive outcomes. If you have more time, you can think of ways to achieve what you aim for.
Once your power walk is done, slow down, and take some time during the slower strides to work in some yoga stretches and asansas. These are some Yoga poses you can conveniently work into your walk.
Uttanasana: Stop in your walk, inhale, and bend forward down from your waist while exhaling to touch the earth with both your palms. Repeat 3 times.
Garuda pose: This is not the whole pose but involves only the hands. Place one elbow and wrap one arm around the other to clasp your hands together. Hold each side for as long as is comfortable for you, or for a minute, whoever comes first.
Upper body twist: If you walk up close to a tree, place on hand on the tree and use it to gently turn your body the opposite way as far as it will go. Hold for 15-20 seconds, and turn back to normal. Repeat on the other side.
Vrikshasana: Finish up your walk routine with the Balance pose. Hold the pose for a minute on each foot, to feel the best effects of this asana.
Start soon, and remember, if you feel you need to work more yoga into your life, just take a walk!
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