Jun 24, 2020
One of the many beauties of yoga is that you can practice it literally anywhere. And apart from the fact that it's easier to keep your distance outside, the nature of your practice gives it that special something in a very special way.
A study by Roger S. Ulrich, landscape scientist and pioneer of the concept of Healing Architecture - the healing effect of design, found that looking at nature has a positive effect on our psychological health. In particular, organically occurring patterns in branches and leaves sharpen the consciousness and inner focus - two things every yogi strives for.
But these are not all reasons why you should take your mat outside in the warm season. This article shows you five phenomenal benefits of outdoor yoga and gives you inspiration for a harmonious practice in the countryside.
Sharpen your senses with outdoor yoga
When you spend time outdoors, signals are sent to your brain that the body is back in its natural environment. According to a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, for example, spending time in wooded areas increases your feeling of strength and vitality. This is pure fuel for a dynamic Vinyasa flow.
If we are in a natural environment, our body is stimulated to produce white blood cells, which in turn strengthens our immune system. Fresh air also makes us breathe deeper. The extra oxygen helps our brain function better and more clearly.
Researchers at the University of Southern California also found that endorphins are released when viewing a beautiful landscape. So a natural environment enhances the already positive effect of yoga on your health, life energy and sense of happiness.
Doing outdoor yoga for the first time may feel unfamiliar. It is easy to perform asanas confidently when you practice in your own home. Outside there are so many elements that you cannot influence that many poses become a new challenge.
While familiarity gives you a sense of security, leaving your comfort zone opens a door to a whole new interpretation of the yoga practice. Imagine the power of sun salutations under actual sunrays or the vibrancy of a tree pose as you focus on a real tree instead of a point on the wall.
Meanwhile there are a number of studies that show that just 20 minutes in nature can help to reduce stress - a fundamental element of the meditation practice of many yogis.
People who are exposed to a forest environment instead of an urban environment have a significantly lower concentration of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood. This is shown by the results of a field study conducted by the Japanese journal Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine.
Yoga outdoors also sharpens your senses. You take the light breeze on your skin, feel the little bumps under your feet and hear the rustling of the leaves or the chirping of the birds. You automatically become more attentive.
Uneven, natural surfaces like sand, grass or the forest floor can intensify the physical effects of a yoga pose. Practicing on uneven surfaces such as sand builds up the secondary muscles of the feet, hips, knees, spine and shoulders of a yogi.
A slight deviation from the straight floor of your home due to natural terrain also helps your balance. Unevenness may seem like a distraction at first and your patience is needed to make the asanas work. But the more often you practice yoga outdoors, the more focused your perception becomes and your sense of balance becomes a magical tool.
Many aspects of yoga are actually about being in the moment and one with nature or the universe. This is why so many asanas reflect animals and nature.
By giving your body the shape of a tree or a stretching cat, spreading your arms gracefully like the wings of a bird, or adjusting your breathing to the cycle of the waves, you create a connection to nature, the universe and yourself. You become part of something bigger.
With SUP-Yoga you bring your balance to the next level
Think about the environment with which you want to feel connected. In the park, in the forest, by the river or lake, on the roof or in the garden - outdoor yoga goes everywhere. Whether alone or together with other yogis, you can practice asanas everywhere and every place offers a new experience.
If you are looking for a special challenge, try yoga this summer on a stand-up paddle. But beware, SUP Yoga requires a strong sense of balance.
If you prefer yoga on solid ground, pay attention to elements like sun and temperature and take enough water or tea with you. Because in summer you can break out in a sweat quite quickly. For particularly hot days, a place near water is ideal to cool down after your practice.
Whether or not a yoga mat makes sense depends on the terrain and your personal preferences. On a warm, soft meadow you may not want to feel a mat between you and the ground, but on spiky pine needles in the forest it is hard to imagine a mat without it. It is best to always have your mat at hand and try it out on the spot, which feels good.
On uneven surfaces a mat can give you extra stability. It can also increase the stretching effect of certain poses. This is because a natural surface often gives way more quickly.
Which underground feels good?
A mat also protects you from dirt, if the ground is particularly dusty or sandy. For example, if you change from exercises on the floor to asanas in standing position and vice versa, it is annoying to have to clean your hands after each pose. A non-slip outdoor yoga mat is easy to clean, so you don't have to worry about the surface.
While a breeze deepens your breathing, the warmth of the sun makes your muscles more supple and helps you to go even deeper into the poses. And suddenly, a ladybird invites you to focus on the moment.
You will soon notice that outdoor yoga has a flow all its own. Little by little you will know exactly which asanas feel right in a particular environment.
For your first time outside, we recommend standing asanas such as: the triangle, the warrior, the chair, the crescent or the tree. Little by little you can try more and more complex poses and develop your own natural flow.
A good outdoor yoga introduction is also the 15-minute flow for grounding and centering with Mady Morrison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UzvYPZReRg
If you are more the water type, let yourself be inspired by the beautiful photographs of athleticflow at Sunrise SUP Yoga in Zurich.
Flow with your surroundings, find your nature flow.
Nature gives you an immediate feeling of freedom, which you simply cannot replicate in a closed space. But most of all it gives you a feeling of connectedness, grounds you and helps you to let go.
You watch ants crawl over your mat and decide to respect them instead of scaring them away. You adjust your poses and movements to avoid them and leave them alone. They crawl away and you feel connected to them by an invisible bond.
This combination of yoga and nature is a wonderful way to boost your creativity and resilience. If you imagine nature as your yoga partner, a whole new world opens up.
Get creative, get out in the country
and don't forget your LUVIYO.