We all know how uplifting a long stroll in the park or a nice walk on a wooded trail can be. But have you ever taken the time to consider that how you walk is every bit as important as the act of walking itself? Walking is an art form, and it needs to be done with consciousness and care—especially as we grow older.
Body & Brain Yoga founder Ilchi Lee found this out the hard way, after being injured in a horseback riding accident at the age of fifty-six. He’d been out exploring the sacred desert of Sedona, Arizona when the accident happened. It was during his recovery period after sustaining lower back injuries when he noticed his gait had changed. No longer did he walk in a youthful manner. His new gait mimicked that of the elderly. You can learn more about Lee’s story in his groundbreaking work on aging.
He intuitively sensed there was a better way to carry himself post-recovery. After much study and deliberation, he developed a style of walking he calls longevity walking. It’s a mindful way of holding the body as we walk that promises to keep us strong, supple, and inspired as we age. We all know that we need to move our body and exercise regularly if we’re to live a long and fruitful life. And one way to do this is through the simple practice of longevity walking.
It’s a manner of walking that takes into consideration posture, angle, and gait. First off, you walk with your feet parallel to each other. This might take some time to get used to, depending upon your current walking habit. Simply spend ample time practicing walking with your feet parallel. Pay attention to how it feels to walk in such a mindful manner. Next, make sure your posture is good. Roll your shoulders up and down the back so that your chest is open and your neck and spine are long. Think of how dancers carry themselves. Then mimic that posture.
Another facet of longevity walking has to do with something called the yongchun. This is a Korean word that refers to an energy point that lies under the balls of your feet. As you walk, press down on this point. When you do this, your weight naturally falls towards the front of your feet—not your heels. The yongchun point affects the entire body. That’s the beauty of healing modalities rooted in traditional Asian medicine. Putting intentional pressure on a point such as the yongchun helps balance energy throughout the entire physical, mental, and emotional body. To see more detailed instructions on how to do the practice, get a copy of I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years here.
Those who’ve made longevity walking a part of their daily exercise routine report better sleep, less stress, peace of mind, better mental focus and clarity of thought, a clearer complexion, increased energy, and greater joy. According to Lee, the practice supports more balanced circulation, brain health, better metabolism, and greater muscular and bone health. What’s more, if you practice longevity walking with a deep sense of gratitude for your precious life, you’ll feel healthier, happier, and whole. It’s a holistic exercise that serves as a wonderful complement to both yoga and meditation.
If you want to learn more about longevity walking and its endless array of health benefits, pick up a copy of I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years here or visit a Body & Brain Yoga center near you.