We live in a country surrounded by beautiful nature, but we rarely take the time to enjoy it. To unplug from our devices, leave our four walls, and step outside – to feel the cool grass on your feet, the warm sun upon your face, and breathe the fresh air – is a practice rarely enjoyed.
One of the best parts of yoga is that it can be done anywhere. In fact, a Swedish study found viewing nature, improved wakeful relaxation and internal focus.
Yoga was born in nature. Budha wasn’t practicing in a climate-controlled studio. So, this summer, we want to encourage you to take your yoga practice outdoors and reconnect with nature. Beyond providing a heightened experience, here are 6 reasons you should take your practice outdoors this summer.
1. Get your dose of Vitamin D
Natural sunlight is the best way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. But it’s common for Vitamin D levels to decrease during the long winter months. Now that it’s summer, step outside and catch a few sun rays instead of taking a supplement.
2. Heighten your awareness
When you step outside, your senses – scent, sight, sound, and touch – are awakened, activating your brain and making you more engaged. Your eyes can see natural color and your ears can hear the voices of nature. With your nose, you can smell the sweet scent of the forest. Taking your practice outdoors will also help prevent it from becoming stale.
3. Restore your energy
Our nervous system responds to moments of stress with bursts of energy. Spending time outside reminds the brain that it’s back in its native environment and helps it recalibrate itself. According to a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health when people spend time in a forested setting, feelings of vigor and vitality are increased.
Spending time outdoors also reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. You can ease into deeper relaxation with lower levels of stress.
4. Further boost meditation’s benefits
Research has shown that people who meditate on a regular basis have a smaller amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for managing the fight-or-flight response. Additional studies published by Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine show that people who were in a forest environment versus an urban environment had a lower concentration of the stress hormone cortisol. Taking your yoga practice outside is a simple way to lower your stress levels.
5. Experience the benefits of earthing
Our ancient ancestors spent a lot of time walking barefoot on the earth and were better for it. Thanks to research, today we understand two powerful benefits of walking barefoot, particularly in nature.
First, walking barefoot strengthens the many muscles and joints in your feet, ankles, and toes since they’re unable to rely on the support of footwear.
The second benefit of walking barefoot is earthing (also known as grounding). The scientific concept of earthing is when your bare feet or skin come in contact with the earth, free electrons are taken up into the body. The Earth is a conductor of free electrons and so are all living things on the planet, including us.
The Journal of Environmental Public Health published a paper that stated, “It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth's surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The surface of the planet is electrically conductive, and its negative potential is maintained by the global atmospheric electrical circuit.”
Earthing has shown many benefits such as reduced pain and improved sleep due to the effect that this energy has on our hormone levels.
6. Get Inspired
Many of our the yoga poses we know today get their names from plants and animals. Practicing yoga outside allows you to embody the idea of the pose while actually looking at what inspired it. So the next time you perform the Kakasana (Crow pose) you can feel your soul take flight with the birds flying above you.
So, grab your mat, get outdoors, and feel the many benefits of practicing yoga in nature this summer. And let me know what you think of it. What’s your favorite part of practicing your yoga outdoors?