What distinguishes the Afghan march from all the others is the primordial place occupied by breathing. It consists, in fact, of aligning your steps with your breathing. It was invented by a Frenchman, Edouard Stiegler, who was doing economic missions in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He was inspired by the walking technique of Afghan caravan nomads – hence its name – capable of covering long distances , without weakening. The Afghan march helps to find an adequate rhythm for the heart and the breath.
Concretely, we inhale through the nose for three steps, we suspend our breath on the fourth step, we always exhale through the nose on the following three steps, and again, we hold our breath, with empty lungs, on the eighth step. Then we start the cycle again. That’s the basic rhythm that takes place in eight beats on flat ground. But when the course requires physical effort, especially when climbing, the rhythm of the breath will be shorter. We can then use a rhythm without pause: 2 steps on the inspiration and 2 steps on the expiration.
The Afghan march requires concentration because you have to count mentally. It takes a bit of practice to become familiar with this technique.
Better oxygenated, the body becomes more enduring
This technique really allows you to keep the rhythm longer. Because the Afghan walk allows you to increase your breathing capacity. Synchronized with your steps, breathing becomes more ample, and the body better oxygenated, which allows you to be more enduring. We walk longer without fatigue and with more ease in the uneven.
On a physical level, this walk has other advantages. Like all steps, it acts on the whole body. It stimulates blood circulation, tones the muscles, especially those of the back and lower limbs. It also strengthens the bones because the repeated impacts with each step stimulate bone formation, without being too traumatic for the joints. Depending on the pace of the walker, it can be considered a moderate to vigorous activity.
And on the psychic level, it also has benefits. The Afghan walk is called a meditative walk, a conscious walk, or even the yoga of walking because the importance of breath control in this walk is reminiscent of yoga. When we stall our steps on our breathing, the gallop of thoughts slows down. Counting mentally helps to detach from ruminations, to calm our inner dialogue. The Afghan walk is relaxing. It rebalances the nervous system, it helps to take a step back, to relax, and therefore also to sleep better.
At least 20 minutes a day
It can be practiced anytime, anywhere. The Afghan march can be practiced every day. It does not require any particular physical condition. It is for everyone, both small walkers and seasoned hikers.
If it is preferable to practice it in a natural environment, in particular for its hikes in nature, it can also be done in town. For example, on his home-work journey in order to recharge his batteries. To feel the positive effects, it is advisable to walk at least 20 to 30 minutes.