Most of us want the benefits of a yoga routine, but the same old space you practice in can sap your motivation. That’s why you should revive your workout outside. Outdoor yoga combines the health advantages of exercise with the freshness of nature.
Studies reported by The New York Times have shown that muscle tension decreases, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol diminish after adults perform the same activities in garden-like environments, as opposed to indoors. So taking your yoga outdoors can make a big difference to the way you feel.
Danielle Reyes, owner of Yoga Hikes in Washington DC, emphasizes the power of nature in all of her outdoor yoga sessions. The outdoors have an energy that indoor facilities can’t recreate, and your body can tell the difference the second you engage yourself in a natural environment. “Hearing direction cues such as the trees, the sky, grass, a field—instead of the front of the room changes the energy of a student’s practice,” Danielle said.
Even disruptions from the open air are welcome. “[In the] outdoors, we learn to quiet our minds with real life happening around us, wind blowing, dogs barking, children playing, birds singing. That is the true practice of yoga, to take what we learn off the mat and into real life.”
If you’re driving to the shore for a beach yoga session, prepare your mind with your favorite yoga music playlist on the way. Once on site, ditch the headphones and use a portable speaker system, so that you’re not blocking out the sounds of nature as you work out.
Many people don’t have the luxury of living near a beach or their own scenic mountain overlook, but that shouldn’t stop you from practicing yoga outside. A few square feet is all you need to create your own zen-like environment for a daily outdoor yoga routine. Take a towel or mat and a water bottle, and find a nearby space that appeals to you. Danielle recommends looking for aspects of nature you already enjoy. “Create appealing and calming visual focal points in your outdoor space. Think about what you need and what you like, whether it’s leafy shade, trickling water, cool stones, or lush grass, and incorporate that into your space.”
Fair Weather Friend
One myth is that if it starts to drizzle, you’re stuck inside. Summer showers pose little threat to a solid yoga routine. Simply change out your usual shoes for water shoes, or even go barefoot. Sometimes a little natural hydration is just what you need to enjoy the benefits of your yoga practice. Just be sure there are no thunderstorms headed your way.
Inside the Outdoors
When you do have to practice indoors, bring nature inside with you. Plants and greenery can freshen the air, and flower-scented candles can trigger the feelings you usually sense when outdoors in the elements. Hang photos, paintings, and sculptures that emulate nature, and practice near a window for natural light and air.
Reyes underscores the importance of getting outside, with or without all the gear: “As adults, we don’t always give ourselves permission to move our bodies and play outdoors, to put our hands on the ground, to just stare up at the sky. When we do, it’s invigorating! So above all else, keep it simple and just get out there.”
What else can you do to bring your workout to the great outdoors? Let us know in the comments, and tweet your suggestion to @TomsofMaine, @danielle_reyes, and @thanybethanybe.
Image source: Yoga Hikes DC