Blue sky, earth beneath your toes, refreshing breeze rejuvenating your skin, birds humming a tune, trees oxygenating your lungs, eyes taking in the natural wonder of mother earth. Spending time outdoors is critical for our physical, mental, and energetic health. As we are learning, so is a daily yoga practice! Why not make the most of both worlds and take your yoga practice outside and enjoy the benefits!
Travel and Adventure
The world is a book, and those who do not travel, only read one page. Travel doesn’t have to mean a far off land and hours of travel time. The excitement that comes from experiencing a new place will happen if you are hours a way from home or only a few miles. Taking your yoga practice outside gives you an excuse to seek out some new beautiful places in nature that are close to your home. That park down the street you always drive past, a sandy stretch of beach by the water, a grassy spot in the woods behind your house. All you have to do is walk out your front door and you have the world at your fingertips. Get on your bike or hop on the train or in the car, or better yet lace up your sneakers, and go where nature takes you! Find a fresh place to breathe, stretch, and experience your yoga practice from a new perspective.
For me, being in nature always has a way of bringing out the truth in me and releasing the pettiness and business of my mind. It’s like a natural energy cleanser! Being in nature I am immediately reminded of the vast beauty and miracle that is Mother Earth. This brings a lot into perspective! Being out in nature is a wonderful opportunity to practice gratitude.
The outdoors is literally pulsing with life force. What better a place to ground your feet into the earth, fill your lungs with fresh oxygen and absorb the suns healing rays? For me, being in nature is the closest I can get to God. Outside we can completely unplug from the electronic man-made vibrations that exist when doing yoga indoors (cell phone, music, heating and lighting systems, walls, electricity) and plug in to natures natural healing energy.
Grounding for Heath
Research is showing that our immune system functions most optimally when our feet have direct contact to the earths surface. This is called “earthing” or “grounding”. When our feet touch the earth they are soaking up electrons which balances our bodies electronic field back to that of the earth. When we are in harmony and alignment with the earth, our bodies are able to heal themselves.
Reducing Stress and Finding Balance
Taking a few deep breaths outside has a direct calming effect on the nervous system, giving the adrenal system time to relax and activating the “rest” body, parasympathetic nervous system. Practicing yoga outside not only reduces stress in the body but it creates strength and focus. Try balancing in tree pose on an uneven surface or crow pose on a stand up paddle board. Asanas that once felt easy in your body will take on a whole new perspective and strengthen new muscles in the body while advancing your balance. When we are concentrating on balance we are activating core strength and breathing deeply!
We walk in and out of nature all day long, from your house to your car, from your car to work, but how often do we stop to smell the roses? Half the time we are outside these days we have our faces glued to our iPhones. Try practicing yoga outside and force yourself to leave your cell phones behind. Become completely present to what you are experiencing in the moment. That is a beautiful thing in itself. Add in natures soundtrack of waves crashing on the shore, trees whistling in the wind and sand beneath your toes, and you are in sensory heaven! Freeing ourselves of the distractions that exist within our daily life, we are able to connect deeper to our higher source of power.
Practicing yoga outside on your own is free! There are group classes where you can drop in to practice with your favorite teacher outside, or you can take yourself on your own little adventure and find out what your inner yoga teacher has been dying to come out and say! Who knows, you may end up discovering that your favorite yoga teacher is your own true self.
When we are outside in nature we are literally returning to where we came from, Mother Earth. And isn’t that what happens when you get into your first downward facing dog of your practice? Or when you surrender into childs pose and take a few deep breaths? You return home. Home to your highest self. Next time you are ready to move your asana, take her outside and see where nature leads you. We can always benefit from more adventure and fresh air to boost our mood, energize our minds, breathe in essential oils of nature like a lavender plant or an orange tree, and breathe Ujjayi breath next to the ocean. Most importantly, nature teaches us to surrender to what is. You can’t adjust the temperature in your outdoor practice like you can in the studio, or change the song on iTunes, you are in complete oneness, Ishvara Pranidhana. Surrender to God.
Tips for practicing yoga outside:
Bring water, check the weather and dress accordingly, bring sunglasses, maybe a journal to jot down your experience and leave your mat behind! Get outside, move a little and shake it off!
Here is a meditation I love to do outside during sunset:
Find a quiet place to sit outside (where you can see the sun setting is best but you can always close your eyes and imagine this if its not sunset time). Either viewing the sunset or closing your eyes and imagining the sunset take 10 slow deep breaths, holding your inhale for a moment before letting go into your exhale.View or imagine the sun and see her as your best friend, how she rises every day to warm you. Feel the suns healing energy as she embraces you in her arms. Feel the comfort and safety as you are held in nurturing mother earth. Watch her and give her thanks as she sets and lets the moon rise to hold you now. Know that no matter what happens, mother sun is there to light your way, and she will always rise again for you tomorrow.
Get out there and shine , yogis! This is your life to live!