Perhaps it’s the flowers and the warming temperatures (in parts of the world, anyway), but I’ve noticed more kudos to exercising outside. Within the last few months, several outlets from the New York Times and Yoga Journal, cite several studies where exercising outdoors not only offered more strenuous challenges (i.e. fitness seekers dealing with things like wind and terrain changes versus the controlled conditions of a gym), but the time outdoors could also lessen factors that contribute to disease, like helping reduce high blood pressure, depression as well as anxiety and anger. Some of the studies also found that the time outside encouraged people to work out longer, which may not be surprising considering that you’re more than likely surrounded by trees and sky outside, rather than staring at a blank wall and cardio machines inside.
Yoga In Caves Versus Yoga Among Trees?
So what happens when you take your yoga outside? Well I don’t presume to speak for the ancient yogis, but my conclusion, which is perhaps slightly biased, comes in the form of a question: How could it be anything but a powerful burst of healthy life juice?!?! Okay so you’re most likely not dealing with huge changes to your mat experience like a runner or biker might, but yoga outside does have its perks.
Here are just five reasons to take your asana outside (psst, the list doesn’t have to stop here!):
1. You Can Leave The Mat At Home
Nothing like the feeling of grass between your toes to say it’s playtime. Yoga never felt less serious!
2. You Get Creative And Fearless
Maybe you can use that tree to help with handstand! Being outside can bring out the kid in you.
3. You Can Practice Being Yogic Outside
Gee, there are a lot bugs out here, but why not be like the Buddha and go with the flow?
4. You Can Appreciate The Outdoors And Love The Planet At The Same Time
Lifting your arms up in a sun salute takes on a whole other dimension outside. The breeze is sweet on overheated skin and a nice dose of Vitamin D makes you glow in your favorite pose!
5. You Can Make New Friends
Just like that impromptu game of ultimate Frisbee or soccer, who wouldn’t want to join a yoga party in the park or at the beach? Something about yoga outside helps it feel less intimidating and more fun. It’s recess, really!
Please note I’m not dissing indoor classes in the slightest because we all know being indoors does have its perks, too. But why not spice up your usual practice time with some outside time, too? Taking your yoga into nature could be a great way to celebrate what the practice invites you to celebrate: LIFE!
So consider your porch, a nearby park or beach, maybe your backyard. Begin your practice seated or standing quietly with eyes closed and notice the natural world around you, from the gentle winds to the sun’s rays. Listen to the sounds of birds mingled with the soft sigh of your breath. Feel the grass or sand between your toes, and if you comfortable enough, try a few sun salutes with your eyes closed. It can add a whole new perspective to your yoga practice. And maybe, just maybe, lift your mood to limitless heights. Here’s to the celebration of life!