The Yoga and Walking
By Nicole Kwan
Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my
thoughts begin to flow.
~Henry David Thoreau
Recent studies show that regular walking decreases a woman’s risks of colon cancer. Better yet, it improves blood pressure (as does yoga). High blood pressure is a direct factor in heart disease, the number one killer of women. Plus, walking burns fat to increase weight loss-- and helps you target a healthier BMI. Combine yoga with walking and you’ve got a super power of a pair.
“Yoga and walking feed each other,” says Sherry Brourman, PT, ERYT, author of Walk Yourself Well. “The mechanics of yoga are such that it allows us to reframe our natural moving habits, including walking.” The two share five elements in common: overall strength, balance, core strength, flexibility, and breathing. Each set of the poses below will improve your walking, no fancy machines required.
It might seem obvious that we’re talking about muscles here, but the focus is actually all about the joints. With each move you make, you need to ensure that you’re giving each joint symmetrical force and not sinking into the joint. “By remodeling how you move, you can unravel a habit that was really breaking your joint down,” says Brourman. For example, if you keep locking your knee and dropping into your hip in Tree, that collapse of weight will eventually inflame your knee and hip joints.
“The opposing forces of the legs reaching back and arms reaching down and forward create strength,” says Brourman. At the same time, you need to have strong wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck muscles to hold steady. To ensure that your belly is tucked in and level with the rest of your body, peek under your arms. If you hips are hiked up, making a pyramid,, lower down so you’re flat like a board. Even if you take the pose on your knees, you should be straight from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds.
With this deep squatting pose, strong knees and ankles let you keep your chest lifted and open so you’re not dropping in your shoulders. Ab and hip strength keep you upright and supported. Hold for 30 seconds, 3 to 4 times. Exhaling, stand up between each one.