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Connect With Nature: Take Your Yoga Practice Outside
There is no doubt that yoga is good for you, wherever you do it. However, practicing yoga outdoors has lots of additional benefits. Here are some thoughts on how to enjoy nature and practice yoga outdoors.
Before starting your outdoor yoga sequence, make sure that the ground beneath your mat is free of twigs or stones.
Begin by standing with your feet apart the width of your shoulders, relaxing your body and clearing your mind.
Concentrate on the feel of the ground beneath your feet. Ensure that your weight is evenly distributed between both feet and concentrate on your connection with the earth. Feel the strength and power of the planet rising up through your feet and filling you with power and stability.
As you perform your warm-up exercises, remain conscious of your connection with the planet, and enjoy the special grounding sensation that doing yoga outside offers.
Greeting the Sun
Once warmed up, one of the most beneficial yoga exercises to perform outdoors is the Sun Salutation-Surya Namaskara.
Move your mat so that you are facing the rising sun and perform this invigorating sequence exactly as it is meant to be executed-paying reverence to the sun.
If it is later in the day be sure to use a sunscreen, to protect your skin from harmful rays. While the sun is vital to our health and to that of the planet, it should always be treated with respect, and a high-factor protective cream should always be used when doing yoga outdoors.
Balancing exercises form an important part of yoga sequences, and when you are practicing outdoors, poses such as Vrksasana (Tree Pose) take on a special meaning. Observe the trees around you and feel their strength. Imagine your own roots extending deep down into the ground to give you balance. Extend your arms skyward imitating the movements of nature. If you have difficulty maintaining your balance, focus your vision on a flower or a fallen leaf on the ground and concentrate on the beauty of this natural wonder.
Breath awareness is an essential part of yoga practice. Every asana and transition movement is performed following particular breathing patterns. And where better than the outdoors to take deep, invigorating breaths of clean, fresh air? Feel the connection between yoga and nature by taking the time to concentrate on the natural rhythm of your breathing and let it harmonize with the gentle breezes and air currents of nature. With each exhaled breath allow yourself to fall more deeply into your pose, and release all your negative energy. With each inhalation fill your lungs with clean, pure, life-giving air.
As you work your way through your outdoor yoga routine, take time to observe your surroundings. Make each pose more relaxed and longer by concentrating on the wonders of nature that surround you and use this natural harmony and balance to help you center your energies.
Listen to the sounds of nature, the songs of the birds, the rustle of the leaves in the breeze, the bark of a dog. Feeling at one with all creatures will help you to connect with the forces of the universe and get the maximum benefit from yoga. When relaxing at the end of your routine, concentrate on the sounds that are closest to you, then those that are further away, and, finally, on those that are barely audible in the distance. This is an excellent way to reach a deep state of relaxation, which is one of the main mental benefits of yoga. Try to remember how this state of complete peace and relaxation feels so that you can recreate it whenever you feel stressed during the day.
Want more time with nature? Follow writer Charlotte Bell's advice--The Yoga of Walking.
Sofia Lockett is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand. Sofia is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. You can read more of her articles on her Tumblr.