The other day, I had a surprisingly open window of time. The people I planned to spend the day with had other plans, so I decided to head out to Ridley Creek State Park for a hike.
With the crisp fall air and the crunch of the leaves under foot, I set a good pace. Without even intending to get in a certain amount of steps for the day, I ended up hiking four miles in just under two hours, over hilly terrain, boulders and creeks, through woodland and open spaces. Yoga talks about the breath as energy (prana), and that hike definitely left me feeling energized!
So, I headed home to the Main Line with energy and time to spare. Once there, I really wanted to continue the flow I’d established on the hike, so I rolled out my mat, started moving, and pretty soon I was deep into a yoga practice. The strength coming through after all those hilly trails was exhilarating. I felt like I could do more on my mat than I normally do. Whether it was a strong, steady asana or a flowing vinyasa transition, all of it seemed to come together almost effortlessly.
As I wound down my vinyasa practice, it turned into a long, slow stretch — a yin practice to balance out all the strengthening I had done earlier. That feeling of engagement then release has a way of taking you into a state of meditation almost instantly. So there I was, on my mat, in my practice space, with the sun going down outside and everything going silent. All I had to do was take it all in.
Needless to say, that luxurious day of movement, strength and stretching felt like a spontaneous vacation. But beyond that, it sparked something for me. It was a realization that fitness is a multi-faceted process. By taking the time to move in dynamic ways, your body warms up and prepares for activity. That could be a walk or a hike, or even just simple movements to warm up. Then the strength component comes in. Giving your muscles a chance to work and exert themselves keeps them vibrant and ready for life. Working your body to the point of fatigue floods it with endorphins and oxygen so it functions optimally. And after all that movement, it’s the perfect time to stretch and recalibrate. It’s as if all the work you put in can now be filtered through your system, fiber by fiber.
So even if you don’t have that wide open day where you suddenly have hours of free time to play, you can still make the most of a three-part fitness routine. Move your body. Strengthen your body. Stretch your body. However you fit that in, you will absolutely feel the results!