Walking outdoors gets our bodies moving and in sync with the natural world. This basic movement stretches and strengthens our muscles. It clears our head and connects us to nature and universal energy. Walking or hiking in nature increases the benefit of the movement and more easily brings us into the present moment as we focus on our senses and our environment.

We all know that exercise is good for us. Walking is one of the best activities we can do. We evolved to walk, to stand upright, to evenly weight our feet. Walking is gentle on our skeleton and something that we can do for miles. It’s the efficient human mode of travel.

According to the Mayo Clinic, walking helps us maintain our weight, manage or prevent various conditions including type II diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. It strengthens our bones and muscles, improves balance and coordination and can improve our moods.

Walking is an activity that you can do anywhere, alone or with friends, and here in the Tetons the number of beautiful and varied trails are extraordinary. Change up your walks regularly so your body and movement change, because the same walk, every day, can have negative effects.

Walking encourages deep breathing, especially through increased pace or elevation gain. As you breathe, you fill yourself with oxygen, massage your cells, honor your body and say “yes” to health and vitality. Consciously focusing on your breath means tapping into your life force energy. Make your breath an exploration. Instead of breathing, yield to your breath: let your body be breathed as you move. Relax and be calm and regular in your gait. Have integrity with your breath: settle into your feet and lengthen your torso to reach your body to the sky. Let life flow through you.

For over 27 years, I have been guiding people on the trails through my business, The Hole Hiking Experience. I have made it my mission to enhance the hiking experience by creating a greater connection to nature by offering education and insight. Being aware of the flora and fauna and history of the region are fundamental. Becoming mindful makes the experience even more valuable and fulfilling. I encourage my clients to be present with the simple activity of walking—step, breathe, step, breathe.

Slowing down enlivens the senses and focus and leads from one ah-ha moment to the next. Be present with your breath, the sensation of your foot on the trail. Allow the sounds of nature to calm your mind. Stay with the activity so you don’t get lost in your mind’s thoughts and stories. Step outdoors and try it. Let nature support you!

About the Author

Cathy Shill
Founder of The Hole Hiking Experience in Jackson, Wyoming in 1989, Cathy is a true leader and naturalist. Her company reaches thousands of people each year to inspire with nature through lively interpretation. The trips are fun and engaging, and clients are given the opportunity to connect to natural processes, wildlife, and learn innate natural connections. Cathy has traveled to Kilimanjaro, the Galapagos Islands, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Nepal, India and Bhutan to pursue natural exploration and cultural experiences. She enjoys the synergy of life found by balance. Her interests include meditation, yoga, qi gong, and a universal connection to all life. www.holehike.com, www.bhutanhimalayanexperience.com

 

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