Yet, when was the last time you gave a second thought to the manner in which you walk?
There are many reasons why this useful and practical daily activity might be the ideal mind-body exercise.
- Walking is one of the first thing babies instinctively learn how to do. It's in your DNA.
- Walking works out every major muscle group as well as your sense of balance.
- Regardless of your fitness level, age, or financial situation, chances are walking is an available option for you.
- Zen monks use walking as a type of active mediation.
- Chances are, you walk every day anyway - might as well do it mindfully.
- Walking requires no special equipment.
- It's free!
- Walking is slow enough that you can use it as a mindfulness exercise, and yet it is strenuous enough to give you a valuable cardiovascular workout.
- It can help you to connect with your neighbors and community.
- Walking can help inspire creative solutions to vexing problems by quieting your chatter-box mind.
- It's fun!
Try these Alexander Technique walking exercises
- Observe how you walk presently. Do you experience pain, if so where? Are you rushed or slow compered to other people. Are your feet splayed out, pigeon-toed, or straight? Do you roll your shoulders forward, or push your chest out in an attempt to walk "straight"? Be gentle with yourself. Use a kind inner voice if possible.
- Slow it down. Give yourself a moment to think. Direct yourself mentally into having a lengthening back and relaxed, widening shoulders. Think of keeping your knee joints soft and available. Don't try to "do" it. Think it instead.
- Get the mechanics of walking right. Think of allowing your torso to lift "off" of your hip joints - so that your legs follow the upward direction of the torso. The correct sequence is this: the neck is free so that the head moves forward and up, the torso follows the head, and THEN the legs move to follow the torso. Most people move their feet first to walk.
- Continue directing yourself mentally while you walk. This seriously works, by the way. Just think to yourself "My neck is free, my head is moving up, my back is lengthening and widening, my legs move next" and so on. Don't worry if you don't get it "right".
- Repeat the cycle. Observe, slow it down, direct yourself mentally and WALK. Continue directing yourself, observe, and so on. You get the picture, right?
You know you're doing it well when you are walking farther than ever and with more ease. Also, your mind might quiet down, creating room for inspiration. My suggestion is to walk until you get a nice endorphin release - at least 25 minutes.
Did you know?
Walking is one of the main components of an Alexander Technique lesson. Why not give it a try!