Maybe you're familiar with this trend, maybe you're even familiar with the term, "Hikyoga," or maybe this is all new to you, but if you love #hiking and #yoga, this is a wonderful way to combine both, and a great way to get into nature.
When I first started teaching yoga, we were in the middle of a pandemic, so I taught yoga at the park. Admittedly the group didn't love the transition from studio to grass. They didn't love putting their feet on the ground, even in the summer months. They didn't enjoy the distractions in nature, the voices in the distance or the wind blowing through the trees. They especially disliked having to work to find solid grounding for their balance poses or swatting off little bugs that had crawled onto their mat, but I loved every moment and even each distractions. In my mind, it only deepened my yoga practice. The distractions helped me take these lessons off the mat where challenges grow exponentially, but better than all of this was the connection to Mother Earth. I couldn't get enough.
Those folks, from my first class, more accustomed to a quiet yoga studio, didn't return to my class in the park, one even left at the start of shavasana. New yogis and yoginnis did take their place though and in time, our numbers grew. We gathered in nature and we absolutely loved it. We've since joined with llamas and even on paddle-boards. Today we are combining our nature yoga with a walk through the trails at Eagle Creek. Our hike will follow a short yoga flow, then we will set intentions for our walk, practice mindful breathing, maybe work through a moon salutation for the New Moon, or practice our tree poses to align with nature, and have a final meditation to embrace the Spring Equinox.
Hiking is a great way to improve your mental and physical health. Adding meditation to your walks can help you feel more connected with the earth, and yourself. It's also a great way to get your blood flowing and your creative thoughts stirring as we enter this Spring Equinox, when we toss out the old and invite in the new. We can work towards a clearer mind and a greater physical awareness while also promoting strength and vitality.
No need to keep your eyes closed while you meditatively walk, just let your feet guide you. Notice what you notice. Let the rhythm of your steps settle your thoughts. A few years ago, I was really overwhelmed with anxiety, even panic attacks. I would immediately head for the trails. While the long trails weren't always necessary, that eight mile trail never failed to bring me peace.
Often I started with a fast pace, matching my anxiety, but soon enough I could stroll through the trail, breathing deeply and taking in my surroundings. These hikes were important for me though even when I wasn't in a state of panic. The familiarity, the routine of it, settled me quicker when I did need the relief.
Take slow, intentional, mindful steps, and focus on the sensations that you usually don't notice. Notice your feet and legs while you move, or the rhythm of your breathing. The thuds of my feet with each step were like being rocked to sleep. The more you focus on yourself and the immediate world around you, the more mindful and present you'll be.
As other thoughts come into your space, don't judge them or give them much attention, but let them pass you by like the trees or the clouds. Don't hold onto them, and do your best to focus again on the path, the step ahead of you. The red trail at Eagle Creek really was perfect for me for these moments, because it offered a walk around two gorgeous lakes, enough uphill challenges, and woods that I had to pay attention or miss my turn, even trip over a tree root or step on wildlife.
Build you stamina though before committing to these bigger trails. In fact, from summer to summer I have to build again. Eight miles was my regular routine every Sunday, but after even a few months break, I don't find that nearly as easy. You'll also want to assure you have proper fitting socks and shoes, and that you have plans for water and using the restroom. Not all parks have toilets available through the cooler months. Jeremy and I have also been locked in a park before as well, because we didn't make it back to our car in time. The police were not even a little kind about this.
Our yoga hikes are an opportunity for our clients to connect with nature, with each other, and even themselves. If you'd like to join us, peek under member benefits and sign up to join us. These are free. We'd love to have you!