Grounding Yourself: Yoga In Nature
On average, Americans spend a staggering 93% of their time either indoors or in an enclosed vehicle. That’s 22 hours a day, 6 1/2 days a week, 28 days a month, and 339 days a year! It’s no wonder we’re all devoted to our devices. With this much time indoors, we’ve become disconnected to the foundation of our society that stood before buildings and roads. We’ve become disconnected from nature.
Embrace Yoga in Nature
There are dozens of research studies and scholarly articles out there that support the mental and physical benefits of being in nature, even if it’s for a mere few minutes. A study conducted by Barton and Pretty showed improved self esteem and mood after exposure to the outdoors. What’s more, a direct sole to surface connection to soil, sand, or grass can have an impact on our wellbeing. The theory, “Earthing,” is supported by emerging scientific research that the Earth's electrons induce multiple physiological changes of significance, including reduced pain, better sleep, and lower stress levels.
For me, being outside puts everything into perspective. Dangling my legs over a cliff while admiring the limitless aqua ocean reminds me of just how big this world is and how much room there is to grow and take advantage of unending opportunity. Hiking through valleys or up mountains to the beat of an iridescent hummingbird reminds me of all the peace and tranquility available to help quiet our minds and soothe our thoughts.
So, if you find yourself stressed, depressed, or anxious - get outside and get movin’! Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, and when you practice yoga outside you are literally forming a union, a connection, with the natural environment.
Grab Your Mat and Get Outside
Nature inspires all of the key elements of yoga and allows you to truly drop into the moment. With the lack of mirrors, you focus on the mental practice, your breath, and how your physical body feels rather than how it looks in asana. Isn't that what yoga is all about?
We’re nourishing our souls when we practice outside. Your breath moves fluidly with “the same cyclical sense as the tides or with an ocean sound, [evoking] a sense of harmony, timelessness, and connection to the universe,” says E-RYT Jane Jarecki. The sounds and the warmth of the sun provide a feeling of oneness with the environment that cannot be replicated while in a studio.
If you have a beach available nearby, try taking your practice to the sand. Close your eyes while in a comfortable seat and just notice. Notice the salty crispy smell of the air paired with the breaking waves racing up to the shore. Match your ujjayi inhales to the tide pulling in and exhales to the crash of the waves. Do you feel one with nature yet?
Being outside gives us unlimited access to sensation through smell, sight, touch, and hearing. We are able to practice as was originally intended and in doing so practice earthing which, as we know, positively impacts our well being. One of the best things about yoga is that it can literally be done anywhere, so why not grab your mat and go outside?