The Joys of Walking Gracefully

walking woman

I was interested to read in a newspaper article recently that a new law against “distracted walking” was being considered in New Jersey USA, which could mean that a pedestrian using a mobile phone can be fined and even jailed.

Apparently experts suggest that an increasingly high number of deaths are caused by pedestrians barely noticing where they are going, usually because they’re texting and therefore walking into traffic.

I called that article to mind when I attended a yoga training day recently about how weight bearing postures can help maintain bone density. It was part of a programme called 

‘Bones for Life’, which was developed by Ruthy Alon who was inspired by Moshe Feldenkrais, and this programme was part of her  quest to promote well being in people’s lives  and stimulate bone strength, using impactful movement and weight-bearing.

Ruthy Alon had observed how women of the Masai tribe in Africa walked very gracefully even when carrying water on their heads and furthermore they had strong bones. In the training day, we discussed and explored ways of moving effectively and healthily.

Since then I have been watching how people walk as they go about their daily life and it seems to be rare for people to walk in an unhurried, graceful way. Usually we are all rushing around, heads down, unaware of other people, loaded up with a bag  or two,  tense and anxious and generally a far cry from the fluid, light- footed movement which Ruthy Alon  observed.

So how should we be walking? On closer investigation I found quite a few websites and youtube clips on good walking, as well as evidence to suggest that walking badly can unsurprisingly perhaps cause problems such as headaches and joint and back problems.

One important point seems to be that walking well should involve using your ams effectively and letting them swing forwards and back as you walk -impossible if texting or carrying a bag on one shoulder.

I am quite aware of good alignment and posture in my yoga practice but I haven’t been as aware of good walking.  So for the last week that is what I have been  trying.  It hasn’t been too easy because I always seem to be carrying yoga equipment around from place to place, but I have tried to leave my bag  at home as much as I can, to look forward not down and to move a bit more gracefully.

image from by Nita Jatar Kulkarni


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