It is so amazing to see so many lovely photos of yogis in outdoor settings holding a pose or sitting in meditation surrounded by trees, a sunset or a big forest. Outdoor yoga really makes for beautiful photos.
But how many of us know what it feels like to practice outside of the studio?
Enter A Whole New World Of Yoga
For many yoga practitioners, beginners and advanced alike, continually practicing in one small space can sometimes seem a bit confining. Especially on days when the weather is beautiful, you just want to run around outside. Well, why not?
Practicing yoga outdoors not only allows for gazing at beautiful vistas while breathing in fresh air, but it can also help to build more balance and mindfulness in your practice.
Yoga is about finding balance: balancing the breath, the body, and the thoughts as well as finding a way to live a balanced life. Balanced living includes doing things differently from time to time so that we don’t become stagnant in our living. This includes where and how we practice yoga.
Outdoor Yoga Is All About Finding Balance
Try practicing any yoga pose on a rocky cliff, an uneven grassy lot, a sandy beach or even in or on the water and you’ll feel the difference between the flat floors of a yoga studio and the outdoors immediately. And the difference is not just about keeping your balance.
The difference in getting out of the yoga studio and into nature is about developing more mindfulness to feel balanced in any situation. It’s about really taking your yoga off of your mat and into the world where everything isn’t perfectly shaped or protected from the rest of the world in a small room.
It’s about dealing with the elements: wind, water, heat, cold, and the uneven shape the Earth; as well as distractions: birds chirping, people walking by, lawnmowers, crashing waves, etc.
By paying attention to the real elements, your body can learn to adjust in unfamiliar situations, and eventually train the mind to do the same.
Challenge Yourself Outdoors
If you’ve never tried yoga outdoors, I challenge you to try one pose on a number of different surfaces outside, from sand to grass or water, and observe the following:
- How does the surface affect your balance?
- What challenge does that surface reveal for you? Balance? Muscle control? Attention control?
- What does that surface reveal for you? Does the surface make the pose easier? Or more difficult?
- How can you use that surface as a new challenge to your pose?
- How does it affect your thoughts?
- How does it affect your concentration?
After you’ve practiced the pose surrounded by the elements, take it back to your mat on the flat floor of the studio and notice how much you’ve changed.