Breathwalking is a form of meditation in motion originating from the ancient Kundalini Yoga practice. The benefits of breathwalking are plenty. Breathwalking increases energy levels, improves mood and mental clarity, and inspires feelings of connectedness between your body and the earth. Similar to other yoga practices, breathwalking revitalizes the body, mind, and spirit to relieve stress. However, while contemporary yoga classes may be intimidating or unappealing to some, anyone can get into breathwalking.

The entire breathwalk should take 45 minutes, but of course you can walk for longer when the mood strikes. There are five sequential steps to follow, each with a specific purpose:

  1. Awaken (do this for 7 minutes)

Wake your body up and shake off the cobwebs. Think of this as your warm up, getting your muscles loose and ready to go. Traditionally, three to five different exercises are completed for one to three minutes each. These are typically arm exercises, a posture exercise, and a breathing exercise. You need to bring awareness to your breath during this portion of the walk. Some traditional breathwalk techniques include taking full conscious breaths, or “Breath of Fire” which requires inhaling passively and exhaling powerfully and quickly. You might sound like a dog panting, but that means you are doing it right.

  1. Align (for 3 minutes)

Establish the connection between mind and body. While walking, complete a full scan of your body by bringing awareness to each foot first, then calves, then your knees and thighs. Work your way up and focus on each body part for a moment or two.

  1. Vitalize (approximately 27 minutes)

This is the main event, the part of the walk intended to energize the body, increase stamina, and relieve tension. In order to clear the mind, try coordinating your breath with your walking cadence. Match each step you take to the rhythm of your breathing. Try breathing only through your nose, not your mouth. Complete intervals of this focused rhythmic breathing for three to five minutes each, giving yourself three minutes of normal breathing between each interval.

  1. Balance (4 minutes)

Begin to cool down. Slow your pace and focus on how you’re feeling. You can take this time to set positive intentions for the rest of your day, or just bask in the glow of a walk well done.

  1. Integrate (4 minutes)

Think of this as part two of your cool down, connecting your inner body with the external world one last time. Show appreciation for the muscles and bones that worked together to take you on this walk. We can be so critical of ourselves in our regular lives, so this is the perfect time to thank your body for all that it does.

Clinical research shows that breathwalking could be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Time spent walking outdoors can also improve sleep quality and some research suggests that getting outside in the morning is best.

Don’t worry about completing all of the breathwalking steps perfectly. Worrying defeats the purpose. The steps should serve as a guide, not a set of rules to follow. If it feels good, you are doing it right.

Need help quieting the mind while breathwalking? Check out Aaptiv’s audio meditation “Peace and Ease” on Zeamo On-Demand!

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