Walking, meditation and yoga are all healthy lifestyle choices that can have a positive impact on your overall fitness and mental well-being. Instead of trying to fit too many hobbies into a busy schedule, you can combine these three practices — into what’s known as yoga breathwalking — to save time and lose weight while having fun.
Here’s what you need to know about the basics of yoga breathwalking and how it can help calm your mind and reduce stress while you shed pounds.
HOW IT WORKS
The goal of yoga breathwalking is to synchronize your breathing with your stride during daily walks to calm your mind and improve conscious awareness of your body. This style of moving meditation was developed from the kundalini yoga practice as a way to link the body and mind for greater spiritual awareness.
Similar to yoga, an emphasis is placed on taking deep, full breaths instead of shallow ones. By focusing on your steps and how you breathe, you can put busy thoughts to rest and instead focus on the present with a quiet mind.
The benefits of walking have been well documented, from improving cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, to reducing the risk of heart disease and managing conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Meditation, on the other hand, has been shown to decrease stress, steady your emotions and improve energy levels and mental clarity.
Not only can meditation help prevent cognitive decline, it can also help with weight loss. One study found participants were less likely to choose unhealthy food after participating in mindful practice techniques like breathwalking. This is due to the increased awareness of the body, making the individual more conscious of how their choices affect the body and more likely to commit to healthy lifestyle choices.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Whether you’re looking for a calm recovery walk, a way to improve your hill-walking technique or just want to reduce stress and clear your mind, breathwalking can be a terrific technique to include in your weekly routine.
Here’s how to coordinate your breaths with your steps:
With the basic wave technique, you’ll inhale through the nose with each foot strike for four steps. These four short inhalations will teach you to begin breathing deeper into the diaphragm while you walk instead of shallow, forced breathing. After four steps, exhale four times for four more steps. Start by doing this technique for 5 minutes at a time during your walk, taking breaks when needed. You can increase the length of time as you become more comfortable.
This technique involves taking one long breath every four steps instead of four short inhalations. Following four steps, exhale one long, slow breath for four more steps. While it may feel unnatural at first, the more you practice, the more this way of breathing, counting and walking becomes rhythmic and feels like second nature.
If you want to up your breathwalking technique further try these two steps:
- As you count steps, make yourself more aware of your surroundings. Focus on the sun, the sky and the life around you.
- Choose a positive, self-affirming mantra to coordinate with your foot strikes and repeat it silently during your walk.