Yoga is beneficial to the body and the mind no matter where it’s practised. Why does it matter whether you practice in your living room while listening to music, or outside with the chirping birds?
Practising yoga outside has some key benefits to your physical and mental health. Benefits that can last you a lifetime and allow you to live in better harmony with the earth. Connecting with nature and listening to your own body is key to unlocking these benefits.
Being outside surrounded by nature is an easy way to enhance your mood. Maybe you’re feeling down-in-the-dumps, or maybe you’re just feeling a little tired. Either way, the sun provides your body with Vitamin D to naturally boost your mood.
We become more mindful when we practice yoga outside because we’re met with more distractions. When we learn to flow with those distractions rather than being hindered by them, we become mentally stronger.
When we practice outside, there are all kinds of noises. Dogs barking. Cars zooming past. Bugs flying into your space. With enough outside practice, you learn to go with the flow and not let these things bother you.
When you learn to not let the little things bother you, your resilience grows. This helps you on and off the mat because you’ll learn to keep going even when the hard things in life stand in your way.
Besides, being surrounded by the beauty of nature helps us to put things into perspective. Nature is all important and powerful. When we realize that we’re a part of it all, it makes all of our small worries seem so much less important.
Take the clouds, for example. Clouds are just masses of water droplets in the air, but we still find a way to connect to them. There are so many types of clouds, and when we look at them, we use our imagination to see symbols and shapes. It’s like nature’s own painting.
Practising yoga outside helps us to connect better with our ancestors as well. Long ago, when yoga was first practised, it was done outside. Yoga is rooted in our connection with nature. By practising outside, we can feel more connected to the roots of yoga.
Of course, practising yoga outside benefits the physical aspects of your body as well. Breathing is very important in yoga, so it makes sense that the quality of the air you’re breathing would have an impact.
Breathing fresh air outside helps your body to produce more white blood cells. Having more healthy white blood cells means you’ll have better immunity, making you less likely to get sick.
Not only that, but pure, fresh air helps us to breathe more deeply. Deep breathing is essential in yoga — the extra oxygen helps with our brain function which leads to better mindfulness.
Discover Your Desire And Drive
If you really want to maintain a sustainable life through outdoor yoga, you need to know your desire behind it. Find that desire and hold onto it, even through the rough times. Maybe that desire is to become more mindful, or to become healthier. Whatever it is — own it.
Set goals for yourself for each yoga practice. They can be the same every session, or they can be different. The important thing is that you’re challenging yourself.
Let go of any negative thoughts that you have of yourself. Rather, give yourself the freedom to discover what your body and mind can do. Along with that, encourage yourself. Focus on what you’ve accomplished rather than what you think you should have achieved.
Most importantly, never give up.
Working With Your Body
Unlocking a sustainable life through outdoor yoga doesn’t only mean connecting with nature. It means listening to your body as well. Yoga is meant to be a healing practice — both in body and mind.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get this healing experience. Instead, they feel that something is missing, and they wind up pushing themselves to the point of injury.
It’s important to remind ourselves to take things slow. It can be exciting to try all of the interesting yoga poses we see surrounding us, but we have to work our bodies up to them.
Most people that come to yoga come with bodies that need healing — their muscles are weak, tight, or disproportionately developed. This is okay, our bodies can grow stronger, we just need to have patience.
There are a few things that we need to keep in mind while practising yoga to keep our bodies healthy.
First, we need to make sure that we’re moving all our muscles. We’re capable of moving our bodies in so many ways. Still, most people only use the same few muscles over and over. We need to practice more active stretches, and get all of our muscles working.
Secondly, we need to move more often. Don’t let your yoga practice be the only time you move throughout the day. Your body needs to constantly be moving to stay healthy. This is especially important if you work a desk job. Take frequent breaks to get your blood flowing and your muscles working.
Next, we need to know our body’s limitations. A lot of yoga poses are tied to mobility. Many of these poses can be hard to accomplish if you have a tighter body. Don’t compensate just to reach these poses. In other words, don’t use the wrong part of your body to help you reach a certain pose.
For example, if you can’t touch the floor with your fingertips without bending your knees, don’t bend your knees! Simply bend however far you can and hold that pose for a bit. Eventually, your mobility will increase and you’ll be touching the floor in no time.
Lastly, give your body time to heal and restore itself. Today, people are often so busy and on the go all the time. We need to take the time to let our bodies and our minds rest. But, rather than playing with your phone, try going for a walk. Sit in your garden. Enjoy the world around you.
Aging With Your Practice
Part of working with your body is knowing what you can handle at all stages of your life. Is the yoga you’re practising now going to be possible at a later time in your life? If not, are there ways that you can modify it so that it will be?
We have to be mindful that as we age, our bodies will go through changes. Always listen to your body and never push it too far. Do not push yourself to the point of pain or injury. If you don’t have the strength or flexibility to achieve a certain pose, don’t force it.
This can be frustrating, especially if your younger self was once able to achieve these poses. But be gentle with yourself. Your body’s changed, but that’s okay, and it’s okay to change your yoga practice along with it.
Being At Peace With The Environment
When you practice yoga outside, you can better connect with nature. So many yoga poses are rooted in nature, and they mean more when practised
in the natural world. Think of the tree pose while you’re surrounded by trees. Or the sun salutation while the sunshine warms your skin. It just feels better.
When you feel connected with nature, you’re going to want to do more to protect it. Yoga is rooted in the connection of nature — having respect for the earth, plants, animals, and fellow humans.
Yoga helps us to find balance — in ourselves, and in the world around us. Climate change is an example of the world unbalanced. When the world around us feels unbalanced, we begin to feel unbalanced ourselves. To restore this balance in ourselves, we need to help the earth.
Having a healthy connection with the earth enhances our senses, helps us to be present, and heals our bodies physically and mentally.
By learning to live more sustainably, we’re becoming stronger within ourselves, and building a better relationship with the earth. A better outdoor yoga practice means a better life.