‘Yoga in the wild’ might not be an affordable everyday treat for all, but I definitely urge you to give it a go every once in a while. Practicing in the nature is a completely different experience! Read through to hear what I have to say about the benefits of practicing outdoors.
In Light On Yoga B.K.S Iyengar, ‘the last guru’, describes the proper place to practice as being clean, filled with fresh air and having no insects or other noise. All that is required for the practice is a mat, or a folded blanket as Iyengar advised in 1966, writing from India.Things changed significantly the past decade since Iyengar first started practicing: Yoga have evolved and been brought to the west.
Iyengar’s description makes sense if you think about the loud, busy streets of Pune, India. To find some peace and quiet, Iyengar suggested to escape into nature, close by, where the air is fresh and the only other distraction to be warry of is the sound of insects. But it is no longer common to find a space like that close enough to be available for a daily practice within our modern, urban lives. This is why even though the Yoga mat still seems to be an essential, the recommended natural landscape has been replaced by most contemporary Yoga studios with light-filled, luxurious halls exhibiting fancy, fashionable decor. A view is always a plus but making the studio warm and as sound proof as possible are usually the priorities. Another western add-on is music in the back ground: to compensate on the never perfectly quiet space.
This is all to do with us adjusting our practice and fitting it into our busy, modern lives which is completely understandable. I think, however, that it is worth it, at least from time to time, to get out ‘into the wild’ and enjoy our practice surrounded by nature only. It might not be an affordable everyday treat for all, but I definitely urge you to give it a go every once in a while. Practicing in the nature is a completely different experience!
So what are the benefits of practicing outdoors?
- Minimal distractions:
Essentially, as I often remind my students: we want to start the practice with as little distractions as possible; we should fuss around preventing all the inconveniences that are within our control and then we are left to work with only the distractions that are inevitable. We are not as lucky as in old times where insects were our only external distraction. Nowadays, we have the sound of traffic outside, all of our technological devices beeping and the constant worry of whether or not we left our iron switched on at home. These are all distractions we can avoid when we are outdoors.
Take your time to travel further where reception is minimal, the sounds of traffic are far away, where you can be warm and comfortable and worry only about avoiding insects around you. Then you can really indulge in practicing resistance to the true distractions on our path to enlightenment. Or as described in the first canonical Yogi text, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the thirteen impediments.
Centuries ago Patanjali wrote about the obstacles on the path of the Yogi that stop him from progressing in his practice. Surprisingly enough, those are still valid and relevant at our day and age.
According to sutra 1.30, the obstacles on the way to the practice are: disease, laziness, doubt or fear, pride or carelessness, illness, sense gratification (or attachment to results), delusion, lack of preservative and stagnation. In sutra 1.31 Patanjali adds further distractions being: sorrow, despair, unsteadiness of the body (try to notice this one in an eagle pose) and unsteady breathing.
All of the above are distractions that arise naturally as we start taking our practice, or any other discipline for that matter, seriously. We can’t prevent these obstacles by closing a door or shutting down our mobile phone, we have to practice with them and be conscious of our own susceptibility to these traps of our body and mind.
Considering we have so much distractions imbedded in us already, don’t you agree it makes sense to at least make life easier for us by setting up our mat somewhere peaceful?
- Fresh air:
I was always a bit of a Pranayama junkie, or a lover of breathing exercises. Only few years into practicing Yoga, breath control exercises became an obvious part of my daily routine. So in 2014 when I signed up to hike the highest mountain in Europe (Mount Elbrus, 5642 meters), I haven’t even notices how few simple breathing practices over a snowy mountain view made my hiking experience so much easier. Hiking beside athletes and experienced climbers, I found myself to be the only one still taking photos past the altitude 5000. And that’s me being that tiny annoying girl with a selfie stick weighting 48 kg, not much muscles included…
The moral of the story is basically that Pranayama is great for our physic and respiratory system. And Pranayama in fresh air is more effective by far! When we are taking deep breaths in the middle of the city, we are still generating a state of calm and training our body to gain control and subtle awareness. But when we are taking those same deep breaths away from pollution and unnatural scents, we are also filling up with so much more positive, healing energy. Our lungs can breath more fully, it is easier to practice advanced Pranayama and it is just so much more enjoyable in general.
- Abundance vibes:
Nature often helps us to find a sense of union. It reminds us that we are all a part of something bigger and strikes us with its abundance. Surrounded by everything that is larger than us, humility is encouraged and we might just finally get detached from all that suddenly seems less meaningful in comparison.
Practicing outside, I can really understand that Yogi idea of opening myself, body and mind, to the possibility of accepting the abundance from the outside into the divine self. When we are open to receive, the practice happens upon us.
Even if it is not always practical I encourage you to try and fit in a practice in the nature from time to time. Whether it is on the beach, up a mountain view or even in a spacious backyard, go and engage with nature while practicing from the inside out.
Don’t have plans for next weekend yet? Come practice in the nature with us!
We are going away for a full, all-inclusive weekend: September 21st– 23rdat the Yarra Valley, just a short drive from Melbourne.
Let us know if you want to join or book your spot HERE