“In a world where we are constantly looking forward and looking back, yoga teaches us to live in the moment.” — Charity Poole
One of the perks of practicing yoga is that it is totally mobile; you can take your yoga anywhere! In the comfort of your own living room, in the middle of a grassy field, on a mountaintop, or on the beach. The earth is your yoga mat, because the only thing that you need to do it is you!
In particular, practicing yoga outdoors in nature is a wonderful experience that can inspire and rejuvenate you, body and soul. There is something about the majesty of God’s creation that fuels the soul. It connects you back to that innermost part of you that often gets buried beneath the labors of life. To feel the earth underneath your bare feet, the wind in your hair, and the sun on your skin as you flow through your Sun Salutations is paradise found. And who isn’t tempted to try a handstand in the soft, forgiving sand of a beautiful beach?
Think about how much nature is reflected in yoga. The wind is the breath, the movement of the ocean is the flow of our bodies, the sun is the fire of the warming and energizing solar poses, the moon is the grounding, peaceful calm of the cooling and relaxing lunar poses. Many of the poses of yoga are even named after animals and nature (Tree Pose, Crow Pose, Dolphin Pose, Bird of Paradise Pose). It is no wonder that the two feel so intimately connected.
In nature we can learn to be still, and quiet the chatter of the mind. We can connect with the earth and take notice of the beauty that surrounds us in all of the tiny nuances that too often pass us by, unseen. As the mind becomes quiet, we start to listen, our awareness expands, and suddenly that beautiful wind in the trees that we never stop to listen to transforms into a soothing soundtrack to life.
Being in nature is believed to balance the ions. Ions are invisible molecules, of which there are positive and negative. We are routinely exposed to a great deal of positive ions, think: computers, televisions, cellphones, etc. Overexposure of positive ions leads to agitation, stress, and lack of energy. Negative ions, which are abundant in nature, are thought to produce biochemical reactions in the body that help alleviate depression and relieve stress. The earth is charged with negative ions. Sunlight, waterfalls, and the movement of the ocean all produce negative ions, so naturally being in the great outdoors can help correct a likely imbalance. Yoga in and of itself relieves stress and anxiety, so combining yoga and nature is a double whammy of serenity!
In a world where we are constantly looking forward and looking back, yoga teaches us to live in the moment. Yoga in nature can help us be more present, and to appreciate the ordinary miracles that surround us. Combining these two founts of healing is a recipe for bliss. Now, go, get outside! Find your own little piece of paradise, squish the earth between your toes, and let nature’s melodies guide your flow.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” –John Muir