By Faye Martins and Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
What are the best Yoga poses for walking and fitness? Let’s discuss options. Walking is a great way to stay in shape. You can walk almost anywhere and during almost any season. Spending time outside in the sunlight is one of the primary ways to regulate your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm governs your sleep-wake cycle. Walking earlier rather than later in your day will help to keep your sleep-wake cycle earlier as you burn off the hormone primarily responsible for sleep, melatonin. When you practice Yoga poses, it makes your muscles more flexible. This improved flexibility can make it easier to walk, reducing stress, and improving the sleep cycle. Practicing poses also has a number of other benefits, such as increased energy and mood. Additionally, walkers who practiced Yoga mentioned reduced back pain; stronger abdominal muscles, and increased weight loss.
Sunlight also helps to ward off depression by increasing the body’s production of serotonin. Additionally, if there is even a moderate amount of sunlight, your body will also produce enough Vitamin D for the entire day in only ten to fifteen minutes. Vitamin D is crucial to good health and well-being. It helps to lower inflammation throughout the body, supports healthy weight loss, and helps the body to absorb calcium. One common misconception is that outdoor Yoga will not be as beneficial as when done inside. On the contrary, practicing outdoors can enhance balance, mental clarity, and physical stamina because of the different environments. In addition, going outside is a great way to enjoy nature and connect with your surroundings in new ways.
Combining the Best of All Worlds
Combining the practice of Yoga poses for walking will provide you with a very balanced and “do-able” exercise regime. Ayurveda is the 5,000-year-old Indian healing sister science to Yoga. Many Ayurvedic health practitioners recommend beginning your day with a brisk walk and the practice of Yoga asanas. Yoga poses for walking can be practiced before or after a walk. In preparation for a brisk thirty to forty-minute walk, practicing the basic beginning postures of the Sun Salutation will awaken your body, warm up your muscles and energize you. If you prefer to practice Yoga after you have taken a walk, engaging in restorative forward bending practice will help to stretch out and elongate your leg muscles that may have become tight during your walk.
The Opening Poses of the Sun Salutation
Stand at the front of your Yoga mat in Mountain Pose. Take a few deep breaths and feel the floor or earth beneath your feet. Wiggle your toes and play with your balance. You may wish to think of a few things that you are thankful for today. Take some deep, slow breaths. With your next inhale, raise your hands over your hand and touch your palms together if you can. Gaze up at your hands as you take a full breath. With your next exhale, lower your arms down the sides of your torso and place your hands on your shins, ankles, or on the floor beside your feet. Hold this forward bending pose for three to five breaths. On your next inhale, raise your arms back up above your head and then into a prayer position in front of your heart chakra. Repeat four more times.
Ideas for Stimulating Practices
As mentioned before, combining Yoga poses with walking creates the best of both worlds. Some practitioners practice pranayama while walking. There are walkers who practice walking meditation. So, meditation or Yoga while walking is an option. The point is for all of us to stimulate the mind while we go through daily life. Walking is a great activity to engage in as a form of aerobic exercise and to work out the tension. That’s why Yoga poses are easily incorporated into a walking warm-up or recovery routine. Yoga poses for walking help to tone muscles and stimulate the mind. They promote deep breathing, heighten focus, and calm the internal organs.
Nature’s Answers to Health
Walking and Yoga are nature’s medicines that stimulate the body and mind. One way to enrich the walking experience is through Yoga. At the same time, Yoga poses for walking can enhance one’s experience by strengthening the muscles. Similarly, Yoga and walking increase concentration and focus, and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. Furthermore, everyone knows Yoga isn’t just for exercise. Equally important is the fact that Yoga also includes meditation training to keep one’s mind healthy. The key to combining methods for better health is moderation. Regardless of one’s current state of health, we need to be aware of pushing toward injury.
Safety and Injury Prevention
Firstly, if you have never had an injury, you are blessed. However, as life goes on, injuries happen to everyone whether we have an active or inactive lifestyle. People who practice Yoga and/or walking often do this for health. With this in mind, listening to the body is absolutely important. Gentle Yoga is a great way to recover from injury and make your body stronger. Nonetheless, pushing the body when you are sore or injured can create serious problems. For the purpose of safety, all of us have to throw our egos in the back seat. In case you hear your ego telling you to push through pain; please learn to silence it. Whenever the ego runs the mind, we are at risk of injury.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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