There are some absolutely stunning yoga studios all around the world, which give you an instant sense of shanti as soon as you walk through the doors and inhale the nag champa.
But as the summer months arrive, there is nothing better than taking your practice outside, to connect with nature, soak in the sunshine, seek deeper inspiration and feel your awareness expand.
Here are my top 5 reasons to take your yoga outside:
1. Salute the Sun
There could simply be no better way to connect with the essence and ancient origins of Surya Namaskar (literally translated to Sun Salutations) than practicing them outside in the presence of the sun, either at sunrise or simply with the feeling of the warmth of the sun on your face and body.
Sun Salutations date back to the Vedas (the earliest body of Indian scriptures) where sun salutations were part of a mandatory daily routine to bring about good health and prosperity.
Allow your breath to lead you and really connect to the power, sustaining life force and energy of the sun as you flow through your practice; make your sun salutations an offering.
2. Breathe in Life
As yoga practice is heavily influenced by the awareness of your breath and synchronising breath to movement, it makes total sense to try and breathe in the purest, freshest air possible – and nature offers that in abundance!
Fresh air is full of oxygen, which is essential for health helping to keep the immune system strong, increasing serotonin levels in the body and improving the blood pressure and heart rate.
Find somewhere deep in nature or even a nice park, garden or somewhere where there are an abundance of trees to enjoy breathing in the most pure air possible – watch your practice transform, your body rejoice and the awareness of breath take on a whole new meaning as you soak in pure, fresh air.
3. Find Your Foundation
You’ll never feel more grounded than when you have your bare feet on the earth. Not only will you feel a much deeper connection to the earth (and therefore, stability in your practice), you'll also reap the benefits of earthing or grounding.
Earthing, or being barefoot on the earth, have been shown to include relieved muscle tension, improved sleep, increased energy levels, lowered stress levels and increased adrenal health.
You can imagine roots travelling down from the soles of your feet deep into the earth grounding and stabilising you each time you exhale, and then drawing the nourishment of the earth back up through the roots into your body with each inhale.
4. Expand Your Horizons
Although drishti (focused yogic gaze) has its place and huge benefits in yoga practice, it sometimes helps to expand your gaze and horizons outwards.
In our age of modern technology, we very often spend all of our time intently looking at a computer, phone or TV screen. Science is now proving that fully taking in your surroundings and having a wider panorama helps you more easily slip into an alpha state (a state of relaxation, resourcefulness and creativity).
So take your practice and your awareness outside into beautiful surroundings and enjoy the increased relaxation states that expanding your horizons brings.
5. Seek Inspiration
From the sound of bird song to the scent of flowers, the wisdom of the trees to the whispers of the breeze, nature can calm and inspire you like nothing else can.
As you take your practice outside into places of natural beauty and deep earthly wisdom, allow nature to talk to you. Lose yourself in the energies of nature and allow yourself to open up to hearing her deep, nurturing, ancient wisdom.
Nature can be a great healer, so especially at any time you feel uninspired or a little lost, take your yoga into nature to find the answers or strength you may be seeking. A practice in nature will help you to really come back to yourself.
I hope these reasons encourage you to take your yoga outside and I’d love to hear your experiences or any other reasons you feel that yoga in nature is the best way to practice.