Rediscovering Balance in Nature: Yoga Outdoors
Gazing out at the ocean. Listening to the crashing waves. Your feet rooted as deep as the trees around you. Hands to your heart.
Balance is attainable anywhere and the proof of it surrounds us. Nature’s flow is the perfect setting to ground your yoga practice. Whether on sand or soil, on the beach or in the forest, or in your own backyard, yoga can be practiced anywhere.
For many of us right now, our life experience feels out of balance. Having our studio practices taken away from us, upheaval in our workplaces and our home lives, there are many things that may be tipping the scales. However, it’s up to us to find our paths back towards reclaiming the peace we achieved before. Though it may seem otherwise, the world is still very much in balance. The trees still cast shade, the breeze still blows from the ocean, the sun still shines on our rooftops. It is we who are out of balance, and it is up to us as yogis to use our practices to bring us back into balance.
How do we do this? Let nature’s path direct us.
The following is a guide to using outdoor yoga as a means to reclaiming our life balance.
- Where is your outdoor yoga haven?
- What are your essentials for outdoor yoga?
- How do you protect your outdoor yoga practice?
- What about outdoor yoga calls you?
Where is your outdoor yoga haven?
As with all things, finding your outdoor yoga haven will begin with a solid foundation. Allow your mind to wander to your ideal location, and ask yourself if you can find the ground you need to practice. Will it support your practice, and hold your poses steady? Choose where you plant your practice wisely, it will dictate how your poses grow and flourish. We designed the Root Board expressly for this purpose. There are so many places in nature to practice if only the surface were a bit more stable and secure.
Next, choose a location where practicing will be comfortable. If you prefer solitude, choose somewhere where the only judgment you feel will be your body telling you what is working for it and what is not. Whether it’s a secluded beach or a clearing in the woods, find the perfect stage for an audience of none. If spectators don’t bother you, then your options abound! Enjoy practicing wherever you please, so long as your search for balance isn’t impeding others.
Although you listen to yourself when you practice, be sure to listen to nature as well – the wind through the trees, the crashing of the waves, they will all heighten and enhance your yoga experience. Choose the setting and sounds you feel best represents your flow, and let them guide you to places that thrill and excite, as well as calm and relax. – ask yourself what do you want to hear today.
Last, be aware of the sun. It can act as a guiding light, though it can be both blinding and burning. Do you want to softly glow against your background? Choose either, dusk, dawn or shade. Do you want to burn as bright as the light around you? Choose a time when the sun is high, and let its flame feed yours. Just be mindful of its effects on your body, and greet its gaze with shaded eyes and shielded skin.
What are your essentials for outdoor yoga?
There isn’t much you need to bring with you when moving your practice outdoors, Prepare yourself with the following props and supplies:
- A flat, spacious surface
- Your yoga mat
- Towel, block, strap, and the Root Board
- Smartphone with wireless earphones
- Sunblock, sunglasses, bug spray
These items will help you strike the balance you need in your outdoor practice – giving you the comfort and stability to be present in your practice, while getting lost in the flow of the natural world. Remember, balance is present holistically throughout one’s life and it starts with a stable foundation. For your outdoor yoga, we suggest the Root Board.
How do you protect your outdoor yoga practice?
Yoga anywhere is a journey to be pursued, but it’s not without its risks. Remember, nature demands all things to bend with it. Move with it, or be lost. To find an environment that accepts your presence, keep the following in mind:
- A low foot traffic area so you aren’t disturbed
- An area quiet enough for you to immerse in the sounds of nature
- Somewhere with a low risk of distraction for you as the practitioner
- Within range of others should you need assistance
Finding your outdoor yoga haven may take work. Take your time, try multiple locations, do research, talk to your community. If you are going in uncharted territory, share this with your friends. If it’s particularly secluded bring along a friend- two legged or four. Though your practice is an individual pursuit, you don’t need to be alone on your path.
What about outdoor yoga calls you?
This is the most important question of all. Where in nature do you find peace? Does a forest glade welcome you with swaying grass gently waving hello? Does the ocean breeze on a sandy beach beckon you with the soft fragrance of salt air? Does a park filled with life and the enjoyment of it touch you in the same way? Search yourself and your practice. What did you feel when you practiced in your yoga studio? When you practiced in your yoga-at-home sanctuary? These are questions to tap into your own inner guide.
Our self care routines have been altered by this pandemic. Though it feels like we have been forced inside, this pandemic can also propel us outside our homes and into the waiting arms of nature. Let’s seize the opportunity, become yogis in the wild and find our balance, find our peace.
Last week I had the opportunity to practice in a hazelnut orchard. I was enclosed in a fortress of trees, my feet grounded on my yoga mat as it lay on top of the Root Board, the coarse uneven dirt under it. With my airpods in, listening to the instructor quietly guide me through the poses I could hear the faint rustling of the leaves above me- see the hazelnuts on the branches all around me, breathe in the scents of farmed earth, harvested grass and irrigation on parched soil. Throughout the practice the order and balance of this world became more and more apparent. During savasana I experienced an overwhelming sense of peace, connectedness and joy. This extraordinary outdoor practice brought me back into balance.
This is my wish for everyone reading. Remember, the natural world is in harmony. We can use it to guide us back into balance. Yes, there is a pandemic. Yes, so many of us have lost our employment, have lost most of our interactions with our friends and family, and yet we can still find peace. Through our yoga practices, immersing ourselves in the beauty of nature, we can remember how to reclaim our equilibrium.