The Benefits of Practicing Yoga Outdoors
Written by Lauren Knuth
Nature always wears the color of the spirit. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dimmed lights, candles burning, soft music playing. The comforts of a yoga studio are nice. Most of us practice exclusively in a studio that has all of the amenities to make us feel relaxed and safe. But as we all know, yoga isn’t about staying in your comfort zone. So much of what we practice in yoga prepares us for life in the real world. It teaches us to be patient with ourselves, to be flexible in challenging positions and find strength where we didn’t know we had any.
At some point, most yogis find themselves unable to get to a studio, whether you’re traveling, or it’s a busy time at work or possibly a health issue. For me, it was after I had kids. I didn’t have the luxury of practicing in a studio for a while and stopped practicing altogether. And then the reality of not practicing sunk in and I realized…this is not going to work for me! I finally bit the bullet and decided to set up my home practice.
While establishing my home practice, I did everything I could to minimize distractions by making the house completely silent and hoped for no outside interruptions. I quickly realized that no matter how much preparation you do, there will always be distractions. Between my dog, my cat and my children, someone was often coming to join me on my mat, which is super cute on Instagram but another thing entirely when you’re trying to practice seriously. So I packed up my mat and hightailed it outside to my backyard while the kids napped. I set my mat up in the grass and sat for a moment enjoying the citrus trees and perfectly clear blue sky. I felt motivated to move naturally alongside everything going on around me. It was a whole different ball game than what I was used to, and I liked it! Even with the distractions that come along with being outside, it felt good to practice in nature alongside the birds, the planes, and even the noisy neighboring humans! Because of these things, you can really feel a manifestation of life that we often try to distance ourselves from. Taking our practice outside allows us to literally and figuratively change the scenery. It’s an opportunity to change our perspective. Coupling this spiritual practice with being out in nature is a surprising and meaningful change of pace.
Every second Saturday of the month throughout the summer, I lead an all-levels vinyasa flow class in the grass at Trolley Barn. Sometimes we practice near laughing children, dogs playing fetch and the hustle and bustle of life around University Heights. I encourage students to be mindful by observing the warmth of the sun, the smells of fresh cut grass and the sounds of life all around us. It is yet another beautiful opportunity provided by Pilgrimage of the Heart to come together as a community with fellow yogis and neighbors, and I hope you will join us!