If you have the ability to walk then why not reap the full benefits and get results from something that you’re already doing? I completely support and endorse this movement because it totally works! I know it’s not as exciting as some other activities but oh what a difference it makes. No excuses about not having the time because it’s something that you do regularly. It is far better to walk intelligently for 15 minutes than to walk inefficiently for an hour. It’s not about speed or distance because those things will naturally occur once you’ve gained confidence in your abilities.
If you wish to gain a fresh, new perspective on walking then I recommend you read the book ChiWalking, It sparked my interest because it intricately combines my two favourite subjects, walking and philosophy.
Chi is a term used for life-serving energy which originates from early Chinese philosophy although many other cultures recognize this concept.
It all leads to the same thing regardless of what you want to call it. Chi is not some mystical idea only studied and understood by yogis or masters of a discipline. It’s a universal notion which is very relevant to each and every one of us as we all possess it. It is not only used in relation to the physical body but also encompasses all human functions such as emotions and thought.
ChiWalking presents techniques and principles that are rooted in Tai Chi, a martial art that uses flowing movement and breathing to direct energy. Before this book, the only thing that I knew about Tai Chi is that it existed but beyond that nada. According to Chi Walking, there are Five Mindful Steps that lay the foundation for the journey to becoming an efficient walker. Some of these steps have a dual purpose as they are interpreted in both a physical and mental sense. Train your brain to understand wellness on a much deeper level and you will be well on your way to accomplishing your goals. There is no way around this but the good news is that with some dedication we all have the ability to tap into this reservoir of wisdom.
I will provide a concise summary of the steps and what they mean. However, if you wish to learn more then I suggest you read the book for more in-depth information.
1. Get Aligned
The power of posture is undeniable as it can either strengthen the body or wreak havoc in the form of aches and pain. By maintaining good posture in all activities, most of the time, you will greatly improve your physical and mental well-being. Ideal posture means your shoulders, hips and ankles are aligned in a straight, vertical line.
Alternatively, this step also means getting in sync with your goals so that you may set out and accomplish them.
2. Engage Your Core
The core is said to be the strongest part of your body. It’s no wonder that in the world of Pilates they refer to it as the powerhouse. This is the central area where stabilization occurs, externally and internally, as all other parts are attached to it. A weak core will force your body to overcompensate by using other areas which will begin to cause issues of their own. The pelvis should not be moving side-to-side as this motion makes your hips and lower back work that much harder. Rather the pelvis should be thought of as a bowl of cereal where you don’t want to move too forward or back as you don’t want to spill the milk. Another indicator of reference is to have the waistband of what you’re wearing to be parallel to the floor. This will be an efficient way to engage your core which will strengthen over time and leave you with a flat, defined tummy. No crunches required. Remember that if the core is doing its job then the risk of developing back issues is minimized.
It’s interesting to note that the physical core is intertwined with the spiritual core that houses who we are how we move through life. This connection is undeniable and universal as they complete one another.
3. Create Balance
As mentioned earlier, when we are in bad symmetry we force our body into overdrive. An example of imbalanced walking is if the upper body is further back then the legs have to reach forward. This will cause aggravated pressure to your legs and lower back when it’s really the core that should be getting the work out instead.
In this step, the word balance also has a double meaning. We need to strive for a balanced mind which will allow us to live in greater peace and comfort.
4. Make A Choice
Most of life is comprised of choices. It’s amazing how many decisions we have to make on a regular basis. The ones that ever really gain any awareness are the big choices like where to live or what job to take. We really don’t give much thought to how we walk, breathe or even think. The idea is to consciously choose a new way of movement along a positive path.
5. Move Forward
Now that you’re prepared it’s time for action. Take everything you know and be open to what you will learn. Remember that you can always stop and start again or make minor corrections along the way. It doesn’t matter in what capacity you move as long as you keep moving.
In addition to these steps there are also five Chi-Skills (Focusing, Body Sensing, Flexibility, Breathing and Consistency) that contribute to the walking experience. Once again,these skills are related to the body and mind. Plus this book also has a chapter with a menu of various walking exercises for anyone who wants to change things up.
You really don’t need to follow the recommendations in this book, or any other, to a tee in order to achieve results. It’s always best to expose yourself to different information and naturally you will select what works and what doesn’t. There’s no way that I diligently practice the steps but I do make an effort to do some while others have become second nature. I see the body as a mechanical structure with pieces that rely on each other to perform a function. There are layers of systems that are in constant communication and any breakdown can have devastating effects.
I promise that you will see remarkable results from just walking. It doesn’t have to be the Chi Walking way but it does have to work for you. Maybe you like to go for a stroll and listen to music while making laps around the neighbourhood. Perhaps you do it as part of your morning and/or evening ritual for 20 minutes a day. Truth is that it doesn’t matter how it’s done because if you’re committed you will find a way to make it happen. As with any learning curve, it might be a good idea to practice one of the steps until you’re comfortable enough to move onto the next.