Have you ever felt a need for a change of perspective? If a crowded yoga studio makes it difficult for you to concentrate on the postures, it may be time to shake things up and take your practice out the door. After all, yoga was originally intended to get people to commune with nature, so it makes perfect sense for you to get your om on at the park, beach, mountains or wherever your spirit takes you.
Not only is bringing your practice outside totally freeing, it is also incredibly revitalizing and liberating.
If you’re ready to leave the comforts of the studio behind, here are some simple ways to safely connect with nature to achieve bliss no matter where you om.
1 – Be Open to the Idea of Losing Your Mat
The thought of letting your yoga mat go can be scary because it can be like leaving a part of your practice behind. But, if you ever want to take your om outdoors, you simply have to learn to lose it. Most mats weren’t created for an outdoor environment. Place your mat on the grass or sand and you’ll find it much more difficult to navigate through the asanas because of creases and folds.
Yoga blankets and beach towels aren’t exactly your allies when it comes to practicing yoga outdoors as sand and dirt tend to stick on them. Why not take advantage of grass, nature’s version of a yoga mat? The foot-to-earth contact is grounding and playful, bringing a free-spirited energy into the practice.
2 – Treat the Local Landscape as Your Prop Closet
Just as you bring your practice into nature, so should you bring nature into your practice. There are park benches, boulders, tree stumps to monuments, fallen logs and slopes. The outside world is full of things you can use to elevate your yoga practice. You only need to put your creative mind at work in order to put these natural props to good use.
Make use of a small boulder as your hand’s landing pad. If you’re in the wilderness, you can utilise a sturdy tree while you practice an inversion to avoid flipping all the way over.
3 – Embrace the Elements
Doing yoga outside presents a number of factors including dirt and the weather, which you need to embrace in order to have a more gratifying experience.
Rather than battling against the outdoor conditions, shift your thinking and try to enjoy each tactile feeling. Part of taking your practice outdoors is grounding into the Earth, feeling its surface with your bare hands, knees, feet and even your back. Don’t worry about getting a little dirty and just give it a try. Let the sensation of the elements resonate through your body–it is an incredibly powerful feeling.
4 – Gaze at Something
Take a look at the flower in bloom. Simply setting your gaze can already inspire you to reach further, breathe deeply, and hold a posture longer. This can stimulate meditation during your yoga practice, so do set your drishti or point of gaze.
Also, according to a Swedish study, staring at nature’s organic fractals induces an inward attention and a wakeful, relaxed state. If you’re wondering, fractals are groups of similar figures combined in a way so they look one and whole. The outdoors are teeming with fractals – mountains, trees, rocks, leaves to enumerate a few.
5 – Apply Sunscreen
As with any outdoor activity, you should never forget your sunscreen. You’ll be outside where the sun is shining and bright, so slather some sunscreen on to avoid ending up looking like a raisin in the years to come.
Also, bring an insect repellent while you’re at it. Whether you’re in the woods or in your backyard, it’s a good idea to use repellent to keep those critters at bay.
6 – Join an Outdoor Class
If you need more guidance or simply prefer a company, consider taking an outdoor yoga class. See if your local studio offers classes during this season.
7 – Seek the Perfect Spot
Your location affects your mood, so pick an area where you’ll be comfortable to practice. Stretching out in a warrior pose while in direct sunlight may seem invigorating but may also be quite tiring.
Practice in a place with shade while opting for a beautiful view. Remember, the goal is to unwind and escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Find a natural view and orient your practice towards it.
Outdoor yoga allows you to sink into your surroundings and feel at ease with nature while also enabling you to deepen your practice. Yoga is such an organic practice that it makes total sense to practice outdoors. If you’re a budding outdoor yogi, make sure to keep an eye out for new locations. Remember, the place where you om soothes body, mind and soul.
Noelle Rodriguez is the founder of LiFE, a yoga, music and art studio in the Philippines. There, she spends her days meeting creative people and devising ways to further innovate in the health and wellness industry. She also teaches yoga and coaches people to be their greatest selves. You can learn more about her at www.noellerodriguez.com. Visit LiFE for the first time here www.lifeyogacenter.com
Take this advanced yoga pose outdoors! A tortoise loves the grass!!
Tortoise Pose – Kurmasana
Benefits: In this movement, the body takes on the shape of a tortoise with its limbs drawn in, symbolizing withdrawal of the senses, or pratyahara. When one draws the senses inward towards silence, the mind becomes calm and composed and the practitioner develops a sense of equanimity in all of life’s situations. On a purely physical level, the muscles that run the entire length of the spine receive a delicious stretch, while the abdominal organs receive a deep massage.