Hiking can be an excellent practice for mindfulness, meditation and gratitude. The beauty found in nature combined with the exercise of hiking opens one to a sense of gratitude and connectedness, at a deep level.
Without question, Yoga is a mindful and meditative practice as well, but we don’t always have the luxury of taking our mats onto a mountainside or into a meadow. Consider these ways to integrate your yoga practice—your mind, body, and spirit—into the methodical, mindful, and meditative movement of hiking.
Become Keenly Aware of Your Steps
Start slowly with your steps and then begin to pick up your pace to a comfortable cadence. The repetition of movement that hiking creates is a nice way to help clear the cobwebs in the mind and body. If your stride starts to get tiring, decide if you are looking to maintain the rigor, or if you need your pace to be more rejuvenating.
Begin walking slowly. See how aware you can become of everything happening with your body with each step. Feel the earth below your feet, the wind on your face and skin and absorb the sounds around you. Begin to recognize the symbiotic relationship to everything in your awareness. Then slowly increase your pace. Find you rhythm.
Even when an uphill hike can become challenging, keep close attention to your breath. Allow deep inhales and exhales to fill your body with the vitality it needs to move and explore. If you need to stop to catch your breath, it’s a perfect time to stand and cultivate gratitude for where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.
Take In the Scenery
Hiking is a great time to take your mind off of the distractions of the modern world and tap into what is the essence of nature’s gifts. Notice what lies before you, even if it’s a distant horizon, because the sky is the limit when it comes to the possibilities ahead of you and all around you.
Turn On Your Listening
The beauty on hikes can be seen, and it can also be heard. As you walk, start to appreciate the subtle sounds around you—the chirping birds and the rustling leaves, the rushing water, and even the sound of your own footsteps.
Appreciate the Foliage
Take some extra time to learn all about the foliage that surrounds you. Knowing the names of flowers, plants, and trees can help to create a deeper understanding of all the amazing life that surrounds you in any given moment. Go ahead, hug a tree!