Benefits of yoga outdoors – connecting with nature

May 7, 2019Health, Wellness

Word Count: 991    Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Back to nature for health, sustenance and well-being is what we’re all about. Well, that and supporting folks who work in fields encouraging just that.

Working in wellness retreat venues for many years, I have been fortunate to experience many different teachers of various modalities and techniques.

The most refreshing and invigorating wellness practices I have experienced have been done outdoors. I love meditating outdoors in the wilderness and joining sessions with friends who guide Nature Therapy walks and Noble walks.

Yoga outdoors is another big fave, it feels to me during a session that is how it’s meant to be done. If you think about its historical roots, that’s probably right.

Increasingly the importance of connecting with nature returns to the forefront for most teachers in wellness fields.

Even the scientific data is confirming far reaching benefits to being outdoors in nature and we find it the perfect antidote to what Richard Louv calls, nature deficit disorders.

 

Word Count: 991    Reading Time: 5 minutes


 

 

Back to nature for health, sustenance and well-being is what we’re all about. Well, that and supporting folks who work in fields encouraging just that.

Working in wellness retreat venues for many years, I have been fortunate to experience many different teachers of various modalities and techniques.

The most refreshing and invigorating wellness practices I have experienced have been done outdoors. I love meditating outdoors in the wilderness and joining sessions with friends who guide Nature Therapy walks and Noble walks.

Yoga outdoors is another big fave, it feels to me during a session that is how it’s meant to be done. If you think about it’s historical roots, that’s probably right.

Increasingly the importance of connecting with nature returns to the forefront for most teachers in wellness fields.

Even the scientific data is confirming far reaching benefits to being outdoors in nature and we find it the perfect antidote to what Richard Louv calls, nature deficit disorders.

 

Yoga and meditation outdoors

 

I grew up in Western Australia where at certain times of the year massive storms would roll in off the Indian ocean.

In my later years there I used to go to the beach when these storms rolled in, even if during the night, and would sit and meditate facing them, as close to the torrid water as I dared.

Invigorating beyond belief, I would come away feeling as if the winds and rains of the storms literally blew and washed away stagnation and lethargy, seemingly straight through me.

Working in the outback of Australia for many years gave me ample opportunity to practice what is known as grounding.

I found this exercise especially powerful in the wild outback, desolate as it often looked, there was no mistaking the immense power in the earth and the trees that managed to exist there.

I am always moved by the sensation of being barefoot on the ground and love sinking my feet into dirt and mud.

So too of being naked in water or shirtless leaning back against a tree, preferably a big old oak.

It’s my favourite way of meditating to be sitting beneath an old tree, an ancient tree, grounding myself and remembering to let go the mental and emotional boundaries and simply radiate outwards into nature.

I find this too with the practices of yoga and qigong done in nature, for me it seems more powerful somehow more cleansing.

 

Connecting with nature

 

I’m not a yoga teacher, so I thought it best to let Masie Barefoot-Judson talk about the benefits of yoga outdoors from a teacher’s perspective:

 

Have you ever felt the earth beneath your feet – I mean really felt it? Have you taken your shoes off and felt the cold soil or spread your toes wide to really feel the surface of your yoga mat?

What I remember most about my childhood is the freedom of going barefoot — of playing without shoes and exploring wide-open spaces with my hands and feet.

 

Although I have grown up, there is still a bit of this child in the way I practice yoga.

My yoga mat may not physically be a wide-open space, but still… it gives me the chance to explore its textured surface on my skin with child-like delight.

 

Connecting with your natural setting is grounding and playful, and with practice, often meditative.

 

Perhaps you too have felt this connection with the earth moving into your practice. In my teaching style, the seasons often play a vital role in the sequences I use.

On warm days, I may notice that my students seem more limber, but often feel tired by the end of the day; and on cooler days, I get requests to open the shoulders where we’ve cinched tension around the neck.

 

As we move through Spring, I create intense internal heat with long, slow movements, taking the time to linger and find ease within the movement.

Spring is often the perfect time to take your yoga outdoors to bask in the sun or enjoy a nice shaded spot. Or forget your mat altogether and leap into nature as your yoga mat.

I’ve rested my back against boulders in tadasana, connecting with the mountain. The options are endless – imagine yourself in bidalasana, alternating between cat and cow poses.

Or you could rise into tree pose, while reaching out and resting your palm on a tree’s trunk. Connecting with your natural setting is grounding and playful, and with practice, often meditative.

 

If you would rather practice meditation instead of yoga outdoors, you can still practice outside and connect with nature.

You can sit at the base of a tree and use the canvas of your mind to grow upward like the tree.

Feel your roots growing down into the soil from the base of your spine.

Expanding our consciousness, we dive deeper within our own connection to nature.

 

I invite you also to play like a child and have fun in the process.

( Masie’s article originally appeared on artoflivingretreatcenter.org/blog. )

 


Scientific research agrees there are benefits

 

During the last two decades more and more research studies have demonstrated the benefits of reconnecting with nature.

Our friends at the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy can tell you a lot about the benefits of being in nature, as can the Japanese who practice Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing, for health and wellness.

Although the scientific community use cautious language, they do comment on the potential benefits of connecting. You can find a more in depth discussion of this in our article Amazing Facts About Nature Connection.

Did you know that doctors in Shetland, Scotland can now prescribe time in nature for their patients?

We’ve known about the benefits of connecting with nature for some time and highly recommend Guided Nature Therapy walks with certified guides, like our friend Marion Edler-Burke in Galway, Ireland.

The benefits of connection with nature were known by our ancestors, this knowledge common place up to the industrial revolution. It’s going to go mainstream soon as it increasingly pops up in popular news like The Guardian.

If you’re up for a spot of video explaining the concept of nature connection for health and happiness, pop over to our Resource page and check out some rather humerous videos by Nature Rx in the media section.

Enjoy!

 


Resources

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