Yoga Insights: Walking Yoga Meditation

walking yoga meditationBy 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 being seriously damaging 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 try it.

 

Synchronized Walking and Breathing

You will find walking meditation to be a very rewarding practice. When you 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 to walking meditation was in Kundalini Yoga practice. We would establish how many footsteps per inhale and how many footsteps per exhale. This is your natural breathing pattern, and it may be difficult to get the typical Yogic one-part inhale to two-parts exhale ratio.

 

Breathing Patterns

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 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 the correct ratio for you. Whatever you do, it should be easy, and this should not be a strain.

 

Meditation in Motion

In martial arts, there is a specific sequence of movements is 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.

 

Peaceful Places

When you 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 meditation while walking. During daylight 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.

 

Awareness of Surroundings

Although it is beautiful locally during the foliage season, you would want to keep your awareness 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 hunt in season or out and are not always where you expect them to be. Once I ran into a hunting party in a wildlife refuge with a complete entourage of dogs!

 

Being Present for Practice

Therefore, 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 at the moment, and you can take the surroundings in without disrupting your meditation. Yoga and meditation can be carried into many aspects of your life. Walking Yoga meditation is just one example of this.

 

 

The Act of Walking

As mentioned above, walking meditation is a form of moving meditation that is practiced by focusing on the act of walking. This can be done by paying attention to the sensation of your feet touching the ground or focusing on your breath. Walking Meditation can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety and improve focus and concentration.

 

 

Walking with a Relaxed Focus

Walking meditation is a form of mindfulness meditation. It is a way to focus on the present moment by being aware of your surroundings and body. When you are walking, pay attention to your breath and the sensations in your body. Notice the feeling of your feet hitting the ground and the movement of your legs. Be aware of the sounds around you and the sights you see. Walking meditation can help you to be more present in your life and to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

Benefits

Many people say they want an activity for depression and anxiety. On top of that, this is an outdoor activity that prevents many ailments.  Most people will give this article some thought, but a few will take action. 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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Related Research

Kawachi, I, Colditz, GA, Ascherio, A. Prospective study of phobic anxiety and risk of coronary heart disease in men. Circulation. 1994;89(5):1992–1997.

Kawachi, I, Sparrow, D, Vokonas, PS, Weiss, ST. Symptoms of anxiety and risk of coronary heart disease. The normative aging study. Circulation. 1994;90(5):2225–2229.

Haug, TT, Mykletun, A, Dahl, AA. Are anxiety and depression related to gastrointestinal symptoms in the general population? Scand J Gastroenterol. 2002;37(3):294–298.

Byrne, A, Byrne, DG. The effect of exercise on depression, anxiety and other mood states: a review. J Psychosom Res. 1993;37(6):565–574.

Stubbs, B, Koyanagi, A, Hallgren, M. Physical activity and anxiety: a perspective from the World Health Survey. J Affect Disord. 2017;208:545–552.

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