By Faye Martins
Walking is a great way to stay in shape. You can walk almost anywhere and during any season. Spending time outside in the sunlight is one of the primary ways to regulate your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm governs your sleep-wake cycle. Walking earlier rather than later in your day will help to keep your sleep-wake cycle earlier as you burn off the hormone primarily responsible for sleep, melatonin.
Sunlight also helps to ward off depression by increasing the body’s production of serotonin. Additionally, if there is even a moderate amount of sunlight, your body will also produce enough Vitamin D for the entire day in only ten to fifteen minutes. Vitamin D is crucial to good health and well-being. It helps to lower inflammation throughout the body, supports healthy weight loss and helps the body to absorb calcium.
Combining the practice of Yoga postures with walking will provide you with a very balanced and “do-able” exercise regime. Ayurveda is the 5,000 year old Indian healing sister science to Yoga. Many Ayurvedic health practitioners recommend beginning your day with a brisk walk and the practice of Yoga asanas. Yoga asanas can be practiced before or after a walk. In preparation for a brisk thirty to forty minute walk, practicing the basic beginning postures of the Sun Salutation will awaken your body, warm up your muscles and energize you. If you prefer to practice Yoga after you have taken a walk, engaging in restorative forward bending practice will help to stretch out and elongate your leg muscles that may have become tight during your walk.
The Opening Poses of the Sun Salutation
Stand at the front of your Yoga mat in Mountain Pose. Take a few deep breaths and feel the floor or earth beneath your feet. Wiggle your toes and play with your balance. You may wish to think of a few things that you are thankful for today. Take some deep, slow breaths. With your next inhale, raise your hands over your hand and touch your palms together if you can. Gaze up at your hands as you take a full breath. With your next exhale, lower your arms down the sides of your torso and place your hands on your shins, ankles or on the floor beside your feet. Hold this forward bending pose for three to five breath. On your next inhale, raise your arms back up above your head and then into prayer position in front of your heart chakra. Repeat four more times.
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