Updated on 18 November 2020
Reading time: 4 minutes
There are times in life when we need to focus on ourselves and listen to our bodies. There are multiple ways of doing this and Afghan walking is one of them. Synchronising our breathing with the rhythm of our footsteps has proven beneficial to our health and reduces stress levels. Enjoy this rejuvenating experience with the breathtaking scenery of the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel as your backdrop!
DodgE the summer crowds
Ever felt the urge to get away from it all? My husband and I were craving an off-the-grid escape, an intrepid adventure off the beaten track. The Mont-Saint-Michel was the destination we had in mind but in the middle of summer, getting away from the crowds seemed difficult.
So it was that on a beautiful summer’s day, we arrive at the dunes of the Bec d’Andaine, the departure point for crossing this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, and as we wait for our guide, enjoy awe-inspiring views of the Mont-Saint-Michel floating on the horizon. I decide to have a paddle in the muddy sand, until they unexpectedly start sinking – such a strange feeling! This place has been famous for its quick-sands since medieval times when pilgrims lost their lives crossing the bay. Lesson learnt, I play it safe and wait for our tour guide before venturing any further!
We meet our friendly guide Myriam in the car park for Dragey-Ronthon beach. Myriam is a sophrology therapist who teaches self-development methods and practises using body and mind to create more balance and harmony within people. In a calm and soothing voice, she briefs us on the concept of Afghan walking, an unknown art to the stressed-out urban dwellers that we are. Inspired by nomadic tribes travelling huge distances in the traditional migrations to bring their livestock to fresh grazing grounds, the idea is to practise conscious walking – breathing and walking in all mindfulness to allow the body to be efficiently oxygenated to travel long distances, up to 60km a day.
A Gentle warm-up
The exercise starts with a stretching session to warm the soft tissues and increase blood flow and much-needed oxygen to all areas of the body before setting off on the walk. ‘Feel free to to yawn, sigh, shake your arms, your legs, release tension,’ advises Myriam. We are now fully ready for this new adventure!
Clear the mind for HIGHER energy levels
We are introduced to a breathing technique that differs from our natural breathing pattern. It feels awkward at first to have to learn such a basic skill but we are consciously preparing our bodies for over-oxygenation. After all, our goal is to master the art of conscious walking. As the walk begins, we are advised to focus on the Mont-Saint-Michel in the distance to get the hang of the pacing and breathing techniques through our noses.
We walk and breathe in for three seconds, hold our breath for one and exhale for three . After concentrating so much on every step we make, breathing becomes natural and we all begin to notice the calming effects, feeling the ground under our feet and appreciating the beauty of the landscape surrounding us. We understand why this exercise is considered ‘active meditation.’ We finish off by relaxing on the beach, feeling energised like never before!
Finish WITH A WELL-DESERVED snack
Eating the right food after this exercise helps us to recover. We head off to the restaurant La Pause des Genêts for a well-deserved snack overlooking the Mont-Saint-Michel. With cows grazing in the meadows on the horizon, we indulge in dishes prepared with fresh, seasonal, local produce. What a delight!
The Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel is a bucket-list holiday destination that stretches from Granville in Normandy to Cancale in Brittany. With the largest tidal range in Europe, at certain times of the month the spectacular Mont-Saint-Michel is surrounded by water and becomes an island again.
L’Arbre étoilé Afghan walking
+33 (0)7 86 00 92 99
Walks take place all year round
Walking route starts from Dragey-Ronthon beach
Two-hour session: €125 for groups of 2-6 people
Half-day (5 hours max.): €175 for groups of 2-6 people
Payment by bank transfer or cash on arrival
Information provided is subject to change