By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Is there a way to combine walking with Yoga and mindfulness? Is there a way to prevent mood states from doing serious damage during a pandemic? Walking Yoga meditation is more difficult for most students, than breath awareness meditation, but it is very beneficial to those students who have difficulty sitting still. Some practitioners are more restless than most of us, so this is when walking Yoga meditation comes in handy, but we should all give it a try. You will find walking meditation to be a very rewarding practice. When you first start practicing walking Yoga meditation, you should set a steady pace and breathe naturally. Once you have established your pace, you should then try to focus on your breath without controlling it. The first exposure I had with walking meditation was in Kundalini Yoga practice. We would establish how many foot steps per inhale and how many foot steps per exhale. This is your own natural breathing pattern and it may be difficult to get the typical Yogic one part inhale to two part exhale ratio.
An example of the one to two Yogic breathing patterns would be: You inhale for three steps and exhale for six steps. Please bear in mind that each of us will breathe differently. Some of us may find the one to two Yoga breathing to be a strain, so your natural breathing pattern is important to establish. It will take a while to focus on your natural breathing pattern and determine what the correct ratio is for you. Whatever you do, it should be easy and this should not be a strain.
In martial arts, there is a sequence of movements known as Sanchin Kata. Sanchin is an Okinawan karate form, which is repetitious and may seem simple from the outside looking in, but is, in fact, a form of walking meditation. The breathing is uniquely different in Sanchin practice, but the movement is repetitious enough to qualify for an example of meditation in motion. This exercise can teach you many things, but one valuable component is not to worry about your breathing, or anything else in life, if possible.
When you decide to try walking Yoga meditation, you should choose your location carefully. Choose a course that you are familiar with. This must be a safe place for walking Yoga meditation. During day light hours there are usually parks and peaceful places you could try a walking meditation session. Walking in the dark, across a street, or through any kind of traffic would not be recommended.
Although, it is very beautiful locally during the foliage season, you would want to keep your awareness very keen. Bears, bucks, bobcats, wolves, coyotes, and some people, do not have the same appreciation for walking Yoga meditation and you want to be careful about what you stumble across. You should also be aware that people do hunt in season, or out, and are not always where you expect them to be. Once I ran into a hunting party, with a complete entourage of dogs, in a wildlife refuge!
Therefore, carefully choose a walking course that will keep you out of harm’s way. Morning hours are always my favorite. Take the time to develop mindfulness of each step and each breath. Try to walk without talking, when you have a companion with you. This silent walking will keep your mind in the moment and you will be able to take the surroundings in, without disrupting your meditation. Yoga and Yoga meditation can be carried into many aspects of your life. Walking Yoga meditation is just one example of this.
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Many people say they want an activity for depression and anxiety. On top of that, this is an outdoor activity, which prevents many ailments. Most people will give this article some thought, but a few will take action. Personally, I wish everyone would give walking Yoga meditation a serious try. Not many activities can claim the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits of walking while meditating. As the years go by, I find this to be great for my heart health, balance, muscle tone, bone density and mental fortitude. I also use my arms while walking, but that’s just me. All the best to you!
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