The Benefits and Beauty of Yoga Outdoors


Have you been outside today?

I mean not simply walking from your home to your car. Or from your car to your appointment.

Have you paused for even a brief time, to take a deep breath and savor the natural world?

Perhaps it is difficult for you to make your way from inside to outside.

Sounds, aromas, textures. What does your outdoor environment offer you?

Do you have a window?

Can you look at nearby vegetation or up at the clouds? Because even in the context of hospitalizations “exposure to plants, natural views and nature imagery plays a positive role in recovery and pain management inside care facilities.”

I just want to remind you dear friend, as I am reminding myself even as I write, to begin again to remember and appreciate the outdoors.

Simple Sensory Outdoor Practices

More than a decade ago, I completed a required svadyaya(self-study) for Prajna Yoga .

I offered a 4-part mindfulness/yoga series in our beautiful desert backyard with the feedback of my brilliant teacher Tias Little.

Standing in tadasana (mountain pose) and gazing at the Tucson Mountains, forming Vrksasana (tree pose) mimicking the limbs of the majestic Sahauro cactus, we found peace.

Resting in savasana (corpse pose) while listening to the wind in the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, we truly felt the connection of our spirits to the natural world.

I brought my computer outside as I wrote this post. Every 20-30 minutes I moved and gazed at this big sky/desert miracle. Can you gaze at the natural world right now? Even at a plant in your space?

And of course, the vast blue sky of the Arizona desert was the perfect likeness of big clear mind.

The flowers were meditative objects; the sweet path yard was for silent walking. The practice was beautiful and profound.

Drops of cleansing rain. What have you noticed outside today?

Because of our technology centered world, I believe we need regular reminders to love our natural surroundings and planet.

As someone who was a charter member of my high school “Ecology Club”, it is a value I have held dear for my entire life.

Now the healthy benefits of “forest bathing” are being scientifically documented. However, from the beginning of time writers have been inspired by mother earth. We simply feel better and appreciate life more deeply when connecting with the natural world.

I practice outdoors whenever possible. I have had the privilege of participating in many retreats over the years in which silent mindful walking, meditation, and asana practice had a profound impact on my psyche. I continue to lead outdoor experiences as often as possible.

Even taking a few deep breaths of the fresh air, and cultivating gratitude can nourish us for a few minutes.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” –John Muir

Looking forward to seeing you in upcoming workshops and classes.

 

The original version of this article originally appeared on Yogalila.com

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