"It's too nice to be inside today, go out and play!" These words can be heard any given day at our house. Thankfully, the kids can usually find something fun to do outside on a nice day. Swinging, shooting baskets, playing catch, drawing with sidewalk chalk and biking are some of the regular activities seen near and around our house. There's just something about the fresh air and the sun on your shoulders that makes being outdoors refreshing and fun.
This holds true for yoga. I love to practice outside. Last year, I was on a family vacation at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. We had a comfy little cabin with a narrow deck that sat just several feet away from the lake. Since I'm an early riser, I would venture out with my mat and enjoy a simple practice before everyone else awoke. It was lovely. The warmth of the air, the gentle breeze off the lake and the water lapping against the rock wall provided a soothing environment and soundtrack for my practice.
I also had an opportunity to practice with my mom and sister on that vacation. We would meet early in the morning, when only the serious fishermen stirred, but the rest of the world was sleepy. The resort's tennis courts overlooked the lake and were the perfect place for our practice. We took turns leading the practice and then went our separate ways to pursue the activities of the day. This vacation solidified my love of outdoor practice and left me wanting more.
Practicing outdoors can be so invigorating. The connection with nature can offer a new opportunity to feel rooted and connected with the earth. The change of scenery can motivate you to explore your practice in new and different ways. A shake-up to your normal routine can feel like you are experiencing a flow or asanas for the first time. Enjoying the beauty and majesty of nature can directly connect you with the Divine.
An outdoor practice can also offer some challenges to help you grow. Differences in terrain, whether it's concrete, cobblestone, grass, sand or dirt, can provide new perspective for rooting and balancing. Random noises or pesky bugs can increase your need to focus and prioritize your drishti. Other distractions like on-lookers, pets, heat or humidity create the need to turn inward.
It can be a little daunting to move your practice from the comforts of your DVD player, gym or studio. If you are interested in giving it a try, here are a few suggestions:
Do a few sun salutations on your back lawn, patio or deck. Try it when the actual sun is coming up and you are in for a real treat.
Strike a few simple poses; tadasana (mountain), vrksasana (tree) or adho mukha svanasana (down dog), at a park. Make it a game of Simon Says if you have your kids around.
Just sit quietly outside for a few minutes on your porch or a park bench for a brief meditation on creation, nature or the elements.
Suggest your studio or gym to hold a class outside. On a hot summer day, try a poolside flow and then slip into the cool water after a mellow savasana.
Find an outdoor yoga event in your area. Just search the web for “outdoor yoga your city” to find great events. There is such great kula (community) and energy at these events and they are typically attended by yogis of all levels.
So, give it a try, get out and play! It's too nice a day to be inside.
Have you tried practicing outside? If not, do you think you'll give it a try?
***For those of you in the Omaha area, be sure to check out Yoga Rocks the Park this summer for a great and fun opportunity to bring your practice outdoors. http://yogarocksthepark.com/omaha-2011/ ***