One of the best things about practicing yoga is that you can do it anywhere—so why not your own backyard? Here are a number of reasons why you should take your next yoga session outdoors as well as some additional ways to enhance your outdoor living space to make the time you spend increasing your health and well-being that much better.
Yoga was developed as a way to interconnect the mind, body and soul to step closer into enlightenment. Today in the western world, it has become popularized as an exercise and relaxation method that helps the body’s general well-being, and alleviates physical injuries and chronic pain. Yoga has many health benefits from increasing your flexibility and building your muscles to mindfulness. One way to take it to the next level is to take it outside.
Five Reasons Why You Should Practice Yoga Outdoors
1. Heighten awareness with natural scenery
Doing yoga in your outdoor living space brings an additional boost to your consciousness, heightens your senses and gives you a chance to reconnect with yourself. The fresh air nature provides elevates your breathing process, allows you to become more aware of yourself and can further boost meditation’s benefits.
2. Get a dose of vitamin D
Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs for building and maintaining healthy bones. That’s because your body can only absorb calcium, the primary component of bone, when vitamin D is present. Vitamin D also regulates many other cellular functions in your body. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties support immune health, muscle function and brain cell activity. While you can get vitamin D through certain foods, your body also makes vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of the vitamin (calciferol). Yoga outdoors in a sunlight can get you a little extra vitamin D.
3. Revitalize your lungs
Breathing consciously is the essence of yoga as it has a biological effect on your mental, emotional, and physical state. In addition, connecting with your breath is a method for being present. When you concentrate on each aspect of the breathing process, you are present; you let go of the past and future and are focused on the moment inside the breath. This is why breathing consciously is its own meditation. With all of this breathing going on, why not choose to be outside breathing fresh air. Fresh air has been shown to help digest food more effectively, improve blood pressure and heart rate, strengthen the immune system and reduce obesity rates. Fresh air helps the airways of your lungs to dilate more fully and improves the cleansing action of your lungs.
4. Replenish your depleted energy
It is a theory that people who spend more time outdoors have more energy due to a connection through our nervous system. Moments of stress often end with bursts of energy, which is a deep-rooted survival tactic related to hunting. Now, when the body is back in its natural environment, this feeling of heightened alertness translates into feelings of vigor and vitality.
5. Get out of that crowded studio
Being mindful during a yoga practice requires you to fully notice and absorb your moment to moment experience, which means paying attention to and appreciating your surroundings. Let’s face it, when you’re inside the yoga studio surrounded by people who are sweating, making noises, moving on yoga mats, etc. you may have a hard time being fully in the moment. Outdoor yoga lets you reconnect with the landscape around you. Grass on your bare feet is awesome. When you reach for the sky, you literally reach for the sky. Studies have revealed that people who have more exposure to the forested setting than an urban environment will be less prone to stress. Also, Buddha, who regularly performed meditation, was in a forest and not in a hall when he exercised his mind. The sounds produced by the wind, trees, and birds bring more comfort and relaxation to a person. Let the natural view reinvigorate you and your practice rather than being cooped up in a studio.
In addition to grass, an outdoor deck can be an ideal place for yoga. A particularly good choice for decking material is MoistureShield, which offers options with CoolDeck® Technology to keep your yoga spot cool and comfortable throughout the year.
Bring Your Om Outdoors
Plopping down outside in the yard for yoga is fine, but here are a few things you can do with your outdoor space to enhance your experience.
Declutter: Picking up the shovel, gardening gloves and the kids’ toys will clear away distractions and allow you to better enjoy the natural environment.
Add Flowers and Plants: If you don’t already have colorful flowers and lush greenery in your backyard, it’s time to add some. Surrounding yourself with natural beauty and attracting butterflies and bees can boost your yoga experience.
Add a Water Feature: Nothing creates peace and tranquility like the soft sound of running water. Fountains, small pools and waterfalls all work well to not only produce soothing sounds, but also drown out any outside noise such as neighborhood kids playing and street traffic.
Decorate with Rocks and Stones: Bring a Zen-like feel to your outdoor space by adding rocks and stones to specific areas. Large, smooth river rocks surrounding a fountain or used as a border can add upscale elegance to the garden.