Outdoor Yoga: The Benefits of an Outdoor Practice
We all know being outside is awesome. Add yoga to the mix, and reap the incredible combined health, social, and mental benefits of an outdoor practice!
Remember when your parents used to push you out the door to play? No? Me neither. That’s because, as kids, we used to RUSH outside for play time. We didn’t need anything but the world to explore, the fresh air to breathe, and the ice cream man for treats. Okay, we needed money from our parents for those treats, but other than that, the best place to be was outside!
Fast forward to our teens and all of a sudden being outside wasn’t so exciting anymore. Technology was shoved into our laps. Computers, cell phones, video games – you name it. Not only that, but we became bombarded with heavy loads of homework. NOW you remember your parents telling you to go outside. You also remember stubbornly refusing until you had no choice but to sit on the front steps or your parents would take away texting privileges.
We’re adults now and the idea of going outside is, again, awesome. Yet somehow the task of stepping out of these 4 walls can feel impossible with the amount of work we do. We work at a desk for 8 hours a day, there are chores to do, dinner to make, and by the time we get everything done its dark outside. Even on the weekends we find excuses to keep us indoors. We tell ourselves that the walk between the car and the door is sufficient or maybe if we open the windows for the day the fresh air will bring the outdoors in. We Yogis even use our practice as an excuse to keep us inside!
Since you’ve already found an hour of your day to practice yoga, let me give you a few reasons to move your practice outdoors.
1. Fresh air
Opening the windows to your living room while you practice yoga does bring in some fresh air, but practicing out where fresh air flows freely is a whole new experience. The light breeze swirls all around you, not just over your head, keeping you cool as you vinyasa. Breathing deeply all of a sudden feels five hundred times easier. The air feels so clean, free of “freshening” chemical sprays and pet hair. All this fresh air clears your head and within moments of beginning your practice, you enter a whole new state of mindfulness.
Dirt? Why would practicing in dirt be beneficial? It’s not just a myth! You’ve heard it before, “Let your kids play in dirt and they won’t get sick.” It’s time for you to get back out there and put your toes back in that nutrient-ridden soil. Dirt, fresh grass, and sand contain healthy bacteria that boost your body’s natural antioxidants and immunity, even as adults. A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine details the benefits connected with our red blood cells through moving barefoot on “natural surfaces.” An increase in the surface charge of our red blood cells helps the cells avoid clumping, resulting in lower rates of heart disease!
3. Human interaction
For those of us that practice yoga at home, we usually practice alone in our living rooms. We have friends that practice yoga as well, or have mom-friends who are struggling to find some time to do something for themselves, but we never invite them to join us in our practice. Outdoor yoga is a great way to add some human interaction to your practice. Invite your yogi friend along! Invite a mom-friend to try out yoga with you. If you practice in a public place, like the local park, just being surrounded by laughter and the movement of people around you is enough to boost your own levels of happiness. What’s great is that these people, typically strangers, will RARELY try to talk with you. If you like to chat during your practice, the friend you invited along is a great outlet! You will find yourself laughing and smiling, whether you hold a conversation or not. Your practice will have renewed energy, and you will get so much more out of it!
4. Wide open spaces
You probably don’t realize how cramped you feel while practicing yoga inside. Set up your mat on the lawn, at the beach, or at the park and there are miles of free space around you. You can feel the Prana flowing unreachable distances. You can stretch your limbs farther than you ever thought possible. No more worrying about stepping on a Lego, accidentally punching your cat, or your husband stepping over you to get to the couch. So much room to move!
Have I convinced you? Tell me about your outdoor yoga practice in the comments below!