Yoga and the Camino de Santiago: a journey of transformation
Yoga and the Camino de Santiago are two activities that combine perfectly and offer pilgrims who practice them a totally transformative journey. An experience that allows to connect body and mind, allowing people to complement the pilgrimage to Compostela with an internal pilgrimage.
That is why in Santiago Ways we have decided to dedicate a post on the Camino de Santiago blog to the practice of yoga during the pilgrimage. Take note, because whether you are an experienced yogi or consider starting yoga, for the first time, on the Camino de Santiago, you will be interested in this combination of activities.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a physical and mental activity that appeared in India and has been spreading all over the world. The main objective of this discipline is the search for an inner balance.
That is why the practice of yoga on the Camino de Santiago is becoming more and more common. Most pilgrims flock to the Camino de Santiago looking for that longed-for inner peace.
If you are interested in doing the Camino de Santiago from Sarria and enjoying nature through the green forests of Galicia, tell us your dates and information about your travel plan so that we can organize all the details of this experience for you.
What types you can practice on the Camino
There are various types of yoga. All of them have the same main objective, and are worked on from concentration and meditation, but each type strengthens different areas of the body.
Choosing one type of yoga or another may be related to the motivation that you have to do the Camino de Santiago. Here are the most common types of yoga on the Camino de Santiago.
Hatha yoga on the Camino de Santiago
This type of yoga is one of the most popular, both on the Camino de Santiago and outside. This discipline works with body posture, focusing attention on breathing and meditation. To do this, it uses gentle movements.
Hatha yoga is the most recommended type for those who have no previous experience. Its practice, together with the realization of the Camino de Santiago, allows to maintain a balance between the physical and spiritual state.
Kundalini yoga on the Camino de Santiago
Kundalini yoga is the second most widespread type of yoga on the Camino de Santiago. This discipline seeks to open and balance chakras to heal or prevent physical or emotional discomfort. To do this, it combines different postures, in which energy closure exercises are carried out.
This type of yoga combines perfectly with the essence of the Camino de Santiago, as it is characterized by being a modality with high spiritual load and devotion. Kundalini yoga is ideal for all those who decide to do the Camino de Santiago after a separation or divorce.
Ashtanga yoga is very similar to hatha yoga, but uses vinyasa.
Bhatki yoga is ideal for all those who perform the Camino de Santiago with a religious or spiritual motivation. This discipline is based on the mantra of “Love is God and God is love”.
This type of yoga is not focused on postures or breathing. All its efforts are focused on chanting and reciting mantras.
Iyengar yoga is one of the most recommended types for all those pilgrims who go on the Camino de Santiago to make relevant decisions in their lives. This type of yoga is based on directing the senses into oneself, to reach a higher level of consciousness.
This type of yoga aims to focus the mind and form a unit together with the body, for which, it makes use of mantras. It is one of the disciplines of yoga that requires a higher degree of concentration.
This yoga is suitable for all those who go on the Camino de Santiago looking to escape their daily routine and stress. It is considered especially suitable for pilgrims who are sensitive to sound vibrations.
Karma yoga fits perfectly with the spirit of solidarity and fraternity that is found on the Camino de Santiago. This type is aimed at people who think of yoga as something selfless, as a practice in which no personal benefit is pursued, but an energy offering to God.
Where to practice yoga
On the Camino de Santiago you will find various options for practicing yoga. Here are some of them.
Organized trips combined with yoga
We do not offer this type of travel, but on the Camino de Santiago you will find many agencies that organize trips to the Camino de Santiago combining your hours of pilgrimage with yoga sessions. Most travel plans are from 5 to 10 days.
Practicing yoga in accommodation or localities
Another way to practice yoga while doing the Camino de Santiago is to join those yoga sessions offered in the accommodations or in the localities that you will find at the end of the stages. It is impossible to plan the activity completely but it will be a good way to persuade you to investigate.
Practice yoga by yourself
An excellent alternative is to practice yoga on your own. If you are already an experienced yogi, you will have no problem organizing your own sessions and it is even possible that other pilgrims will want to join you. If you haven’t practiced yoga, you can start by using some yoga app or a YouTube tutorial.
The truth is that it is increasingly common to find pilgrims in their accommodation, first thing in the morning, practicing yoga. If your plan is to do yoga on your own, either first thing in the afternoon or at sunset, after a good shower, we recommend that you look for accommodations with a certain charm, so the experience will be much more rewarding.
What you need to practice yoga
One of the most controversial topics when it comes to doing the Camino de Santiago is that of the backpack. If you decide to carry it on your back it is important that you prepare it very carefully so that excess weight does not end up in overloading your joints. In this blog post you will find some recommendations to help you to know what to bring on the Camino de Santiago.
Another option is to hire a baggage transfer service between stages. The reasons for using this type of service are very diverse, in this post we explain about them. In this other article you will find all the information you need on how these types of services work, if you are interested.
Does all the above mean that doing the Camino de Santiago and practicing yoga, it is necessary to hire a baggage transfer service? No. To practice yoga on the Camino de Santiago you only need a mat 3 or 4 millimetres thick.
Therefore, your backpack will be a little bulkier, but not much heavier. Choose a mat that is lightweight and comfortable to carry. Whether or not you hire a baggage transfer service is a decision that depends on other factors.
In addition, some yogis carry some additional material to use during sessions, such as straps or blocks. However, if you are carrying your backpack, it is best to refrain from doing so to avoid adding more weight and volume to your luggage.
Benefits of practicing yoga on the Camino de Santiago
Yoga by itself is an activity that provides a multitude of both physical and spiritual benefits. Doing the Camino de Santiago is also an experience that can be highly enriching, as it provides a multitude of teachings and lessons to pilgrims.
Therefore, doing both activities provides endless advantages for the pilgrims who combine them. Here are some of the advantages of practicing yoga on the Camino de Santiago.
Makes your fitness and mental health much better
Without a doubt, most of the motivations that lead pilgrims to make the Camino de Santiago is to improve the physical and mental state. If the many kilometres of pilgrimage are combined with an hour of yoga every day, the benefits will also double.
Healing effects are also doubled
The healing effects of the Camino de Santiago are widely known. The spiritual balance that is achieved by walking, as well as hours of meditation, have helped many people overcome break-ups or bereavements.
If the benefits of providing physical activity of doing the Camino de Santiago are added to the advantages of postures and breathing control that the practice of yoga demands, you will quickly feel your personal balance improving. Both activities will help heal you inwardly.
You’ll come home knowing more about yourself
One of the teachings on the Camino de Santiago is that it helps you to know yourself more, especially if you go on your own. Practicing yoga, a discipline that brings a high level of self-knowledge, through meditation and observation, will make you search even deeper into yourself.
Yoga is an excellent way to warm up for the stages
As we explained in the article that we dedicated to physical and mental preparation for the Camino de Santiago, warming up and stretching, in the mornings, before starting each stage it is highly advisable, in order to avoid injury. And what better way to stretch and warm up than with a morning yoga session?
The same thing happens in the afternoons. At the end of the stage, it is advisable to stretch the muscles well before going to sleep. A leisurely yoga session is the best way to end the day and avoid the typical injuries caused by overloading with the backpack or because of slopes.
You can practice yoga in idyllic settings
Another advantage of going on the Camino de Santiago to do yoga is that you don’t need to reduce your practice to morning or afternoon sessions. Along the route you will find many environments, surrounded by nature, that will invite you to do yoga.
If you want to make the most of this advantage of doing yoga on the Camino de Santiago, we recommend that you avoid the busiest routes, such as the final stages on the Camino Frances. We also advise you to try to do the Camino at a time when there is not much heat and you have many hours of light, such as in spring.
You will assimilate your experience even better
For most people doing the Camino de Santiago, this is an intense and transformative experience. Practicing yoga will help you to assimilate much better both what you learn for yourself, on the Camino de Santiago, such as deep conversations with other pilgrims.
It will help you to meet other yogis
Making friends on the Camino de Santiago is not usually a problem, but if you practice yoga, you will find the perfect excuse to interact with other yogis. Sharing yoga sessions with other pilgrims is a great way to share time.
We’ll leave it here. We hope this article has encouraged you to prepare your trip to the Camino de Santiago including yoga in your journey plan. We’re sure you won’t regret it!
Before we say goodbye, just remind you that although we don’t offer organized trips with yoga sessions, we can help you plan your pilgrimage in pleasant accommodation where you can do idyllic yoga sessions on your own.
In Santiago Ways we work on all routes for the Camino de Santiago. In addition, we collaborate mainly with country houses, cottages and charming hotels, where we are sure you will enjoy doing yoga.
Call us, write on our Facebook page or leave us a comment about any post on our blog. Our team will contact you to give you more information.