It doesn’t take much for me to convince my yoga students to bring their yoga mats outdoors. I take my classes out under a canopy of trees during warmer summer months. We listen to the birdsong and busy buzzing of insects. The clean smell of flora and fauna are
photo credit ~ Kate Hood Photography
heady in their effects upon us as we practice our poses. Some days there is the smell of iron and wet earth after a rain, or perhaps the warmth of the sun on your skin, the caress of a gentle breeze, or the sound of rustling leaves. All these sensory inputs beckon us to sink more deeply into our practice.
As we honor our senses and nurture our connection to nature by practicing yoga outside, we can delve deeply into the practice of ‘sense organ care.’ Allowing our eyes to process the natural light, the green hues and variety of colors present in nature, we nourish our visual palates. We can use our sense of smell and taste to breathe in the fresh air and subtleties on the wind as the fragrances and ions in the air become palpable. The skin, our largest organ can absorb prana through our pores, as well as vitamin D from sunlight. Our sense of touch can be stimulated by the connection to the earth, the grasses, the very air we breathe in. My Outdoor Classrooms Teach Connection to Nature’s Cycles In the past several years I have taken the experience of yoga and wellness sessions out into nature! I am teaching connection to nature’s rhythms and cycles. My yoga classes and workshops have found their way into parks, next to the water’s edge, out onto the deck, the dock and the patio, into the night, under the stars, and alongside beautiful walking and hiking trails. I have even had students who were doing yoga in snowshoes & snowsuits. Hit Reset by Going Outdoors You can feel the beauty of the outdoors through your senses. By quieting the mind and observing the breath you can become more aware of the sensations in your body. This subtle awareness can help you tap into the environment surrounding you. Listen to the sounds and feel the sensations to become aware of the life all around you. Through your senses, you can connect with the plants and trees. Nature is never in a hurry, everything has its time and place to unfold. Nature is in the present moment and you can be too. You can deeply improve your state of mental and physical health by spending time in nature. It’s is like a “reset button” for the soul. Breathe In ‘Fresh Air’ And Detach From Your Day Leave stresses and worries behind even if it’s only for thirty minutes each day. Going outside can have an empowering effect on your immune system, boosting wellness and longevity. Breathing in fresh outdoor air and taking in the natural light, sights and sounds of nature has been a form of cleansing and healing for many millennia! There is a ‘letting go of stress’ and a deep sense of wellbeing that unfolds when you connect to the vast amount of nature ‘out there.’ I feel so fortunate to live amongst the beautiful rock of the Canadian Shield and the variety of forest. In my area, there are varied species of Evergreens, Maples, Ash, Birch, and Oak trees, Cedar and so much more. The rivers, and freshwater lakes, and the boarding oceans of the Canadian regions have a power all of their own. Look for an area near your own home in which you can explore and tap into that magical natural vibration. Even if you live in an urban setting there are places to connect to nature, perhaps a park, a tree in the back yard, the front lawn, some potted plants on your balcony, even a daisy popping up through the crack in the sidewalk is nature reaching out to you bursting with life! Nourish Your Soul Whether biking, hiking, doing outdoor yoga, or paddling a canoe, being outdoors is nourishing to the soul, nothing can replace it! Nature wants to flourish. And so can we as people, if we pause for a while to take it all in. Eat Outdoors Most regions have many edible plant species that thrive naturally in the fields, marshes, trails and sometimes even in our own backyards. Dandelion, Plantain, and Clover are among some of the species that can thrive in abundance in my region. When eaten in season, these plants provide dense nutrients to our bodies. (Please be sure to harvest only plants that you know to be safe and edible. Avoid eating plants that may have been sprayed with chemicals and road salt. Don’t forage along dog walking trails for obvious reasons. Choose instead to go a little further off the beaten path to ensure your edibles come from a clean source.) As part of my Yoga Health Coaching programs, we take our yoga off the mat and into the wild. Leading wild foraging hikes with program members, I offer direction on some of the plant species that can be added to salads, smoothies and other food dishes. Nature provides so many ways to nourish the soul, to relieve the stresses of busy living and to find a wholesome connection both within and out. Find Nature in the Sunrise Other ways to bring yoga outdoors could be, simply sitting in silence and listening to the sounds of nature all around you. One lovely daily practice that you can try would be sitting in silence while taking in the energy of the sunrise each morning. Imagine beginning the morning with the sunrise across the lake or the horizon, sitting quietly before the world begins to bustle all around you. Take a few slow and gentle breaths. Picture the peaceful, gentle light rising from below the horizon and wrapping a soft glow upon the meadows and forests, slipping down into the valleys and lighting the tops of the trees on the distant low mountain ranges. The master yogis and monks called this time in the early morning, “ Brahma Muhurta,” the sacred time before the dawn. There is an energy of peacefulness that happens during this time of day, that does not happen at any other time of day. Even on those days when the sky is overcast and the sunrise hidden by clouds, we can still observe this gentle quiet before the dawn in powerful ways. Here are three easy ways to connect with Nature and hit the Reset Button
Sit in silence, observing the morning light and quiet energy for a few minutes each day. Embrace the early dawn and see what subtle, special moments are awaiting you.
Learn about the local edible plants and weeds in your region. Find out from an expert which plants you can add into your diet. Connecting with you local edible plants can be very nourishing and another way to connect to the energy of nature in your area.
Bring your yoga mat outside and try a few stretches and poses outdoors. Laying down in Savasana outdoors can be heavenly! Here’s a tip. Put a towel under your mat if you are laying the mat down on grasses or anywhere that may be a bit dirty, this will help keep your mat clean and you can toss the towel in the laundry after your practice.
Hope you enjoy connecting with Nature, reach out and let me know how your experience goes!