Five Reasons to Practice Outdoor Yoga in San Diego
We sometimes forget that we, like all living things, are connected to mother earth. We are part of a bigger system, and practicing the art of yoga outside can make this connection more substantial and more noticeable. Spending time outdoors can be relaxing, rejuvenating, and even energizing.
As living creatures, we need fresh air to awaken our senses, tune into nature, let go, ground and soak up some vitamin-D from the sun. Moving your body and focusing on your breath in whether you’re in an outdoor space, park, or backyard can be a natural antidepressant, provide mental relief, and it’s fun, which means you may be more likely to stick with it!
Engaging in physical activities like a yoga asana practice can contribute to good health. “Participating in regular physical activity reduces blood pressure, blood sugar levels and helps with maintaining a healthy weight. “Interacting with nature on a daily basis has been shown to improve mental health by reducing levels of stress, anxiety and even improving symptoms of depression,” says Holly Tiret from Michigan State University in her article on how green exercise can improve physical and mental health. The term green exercise refers to any physical activity that takes place outside, and studies show it can improve physical and psychological health and even your mood!
Many fresh-air-loving yoga students say they feel more grounded, happier, less tired, and more lively after an outdoor yoga session. Here at Pilgrimage Yoga, we offer weekly outdoor yoga from our San Diego studio, and we’ve put together five reasons to take your practice outside.
These days many of us spend a lot of time inside. Practicing yoga in an open-air setting can encourage deep breaths and calm the nervous system. Fresh air can also increase your energy levels. “Nature is fuel for the soul, ” says Richard Ryan, lead author and psychology professor at the University of Rochester. “Often when we feel depleted, we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature,” he says.
Studies show that stepping outside for a minimum of 20-minutes a day can reduce feelings of exhaustion. About 90 percent of people report increased energy during or after outdoor activities.
Awaken the Senses
Tired of staring at a screen? Practicing yoga outside can awaken the senses. The next time you step outside, notice how your eyes can see long distances and take in natural colors & shapes. The ears can open too, letting in sounds of birds chirping, the breeze blowing, and perhaps the city’s symphony. When the senses are enlivened, dropping into the present moment becomes easier.
Tune-In to Nature
There’s beauty all around us. Notice the shape of the clouds in the sky, birds flying by, the fragrance of fresh-cut grass, flowers, or plant life. The practice of yoga invites us to check-in with ourselves, let go of tension in the body or mind and reconnect with nature.
“Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings,” Ryan said.
Let Go & Ground
Taking your mat outdoors allows you to let go of any distractions that may happen when you’re inside. Setting up for your practice directly on the earth can feel grounding and offer a change of scenery from what you might be used to.
Imagine rooting your feet down into the earth in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) or Vrksasana (Tree Pose). Creating feelings of grounding during your yoga practice can translate to the rest of your day.
Soak Up Some Sun
Humans need Vitamin D. In fact, many of us are deficient in this essential nutrient. As you enjoy your yoga practice, your skin and body can benefit from rays of sunlight shining down upon you.
Get a dose of vitamin D from the sun while you salute it during your practice!
References & Resources:
- Pilgrimage Yoga Studio Safety Guide
- The Healing Powers of Fresh Air
- Vitalizing Effects of Being Outdoors and in Nature
- Doses of Neighborhood Nature: The Benefits for Mental Health of Living with Nature
- Green Exercise Can Improve Physical and Mental Health
Written for Pilgrimage Yoga by Kara Willingham