Spring has sprung, so it’s time to get your ass-ana outside! Spending time in nature is known to have profound effects on our physical and mental well-being. Combine that with your yoga practice and you have yourself a yogi euphoria.
So in case this article didn't quite convince you before, here are five more reasons to bring your yoga practice outdoors and surrounded by nature's beauty.
1. You can 'look up to the sky'…literally.
Yoga teachers in class often cue students to, "reach your hands down to the earth," or to "turn your gaze up to the sky," while practicing at an indoors studio. However, when we take our practice outside, these cues become more than just figurative language. They ain’t kiddin’!
When you do reach your hands down to the earth, you can literally touch the earth. Feel the grass between your fingers. Spy little critters pass you by. And when you do turn your gaze up to the sky, you can literally look at the sky. See the clouds moving in the breeze. Watch birds gliding through the air.
Physically moving our bodies and engaging with nature as it surrounds us inspires a sense of connection to the Earth, and appreciation for the beauty and wonder of nature. It’s a nudge to remember that we don’t just live in our own little bubbles, but we are a part of a greater scheme of life.
2. The Added Benefits of Earthing
Millions of years ago, our ancestors spent much more time than us 2017 humans do walking barefoot on the earth. However, nowadays, science is showing that there are many benefits to walking barefoot on real earth (concrete jungles don’t count).
Walking barefoot is good for your feet because it allows the many, many muscles and joints in your feet, ankles, and toes to work in a way that they don’t normally do while constricted in shoes. Even indoor yoga helps with this because we practice yoga barefoot anyways. BUT, let’s take it to the next level and practice barefoot outside.
Earthing (also known as grounding) is the scientific concept of receiving the Earth's surface electrons through the physical connection between skin and the ground. Electrons are charged particles found in atoms—the building blocks of matter (everything is made of atoms). In a paper published by the Journal of Environmental Public Health, the authors state that,
“It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth's surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The surface of the planet is electrically conductive (except in limited ultra dry areas such as deserts), and its negative potential is maintained (i.e., its electron supply replenished) by the global atmospheric electrical circuit.”
Talk about energy. The authors believe that reconnecting our bodies with the earth has many benefits including reduced pain and better sleep due to the effect that this energy has on our hormone levels (like the stress hormone cortisol) and free radical oxidation.
3. Get Inspired
Many yoga poses gained their names from plants and animals. Practicing yoga outside allows the yogi to embody the sense of the pose while actually looking at what inspired that pose.
4. Be More Present
Being surrounded by nature awakens our senses. Our eyes can see long distances and natural colors, instead of the tiny, blue-light screen of our phones that our eyes are so often glued to. Our ears can pick up birds chirping in the distance and the breeze blowing around us. Our skin absorbs the warmth of the sunshine’s natural heat waves.
With these senses awakened, we can be more present in life in each moment with no distractions.
Spending time outside also reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. With lower levels of stress, we can ease into a deeper state of relaxation and enjoy the present moment.
5. Dose of Vitamin D
Before you pop a pill, sit your body under some sunshine. It is very common for Vitamin D levels to decrease during the winter months, so now that the sun's out, you get the all-natural source for the essential Vitamin D. Go and get it!
So, time to get your asana outdoors! Do you like to practice outside? What’s your favorite thing about an outdoors practice? Share in the comments below!
Image credit: Odette Hughes