The Incredible Scientific Health Benefits of Practicing Yoga in Nature
“Get lost in nature and you will find yourself”
Most of us modern yogis and productive members of society live in a constant non-stop, busy, and task-focused world where we spend most of our time indoors surrounded by smartphones, computer screens, electronic gadgets, and artificial light.
We’ve created many wonderful and useful things, projects, and businesses but it has come at a cost.
We’re now more disconnected than ever from Mother Nature.
Ancient yogis and many other wise groups and cultures like the Native American tribes of North America have always known that when human beings become disconnected from nature we suffer.
We may have more resources, information, and supplies at our fingertips than ever before, but it’s also true that we are increasingly sick, fatigued, depressed, anxious, and unfulfilled.
Is this mental and physical health crisis a coincidence?
Thanks to growing research and scientific studies it’s becoming increasingly clear that it is no coincidence at all.
This health crisis is an opportunity for us to return back to our roots – to return back to Nature in order to reset and heal.
Practicing yoga outside in nature is the perfect antidote to feeling sick, unwell, tired, anxious, depressed, or frustrated because it helps to restore harmony in the body.
Yoga in nature helps us experience union with our environment
The overall objective of true yoga practice is to experience unity and connection in ourselves and our bodies first and foremost and then with the external world around us.
Embodying yoga in nature helps us to re-establish this union and connection with our environment.
Practicing outside in nature, especially surrounded by trees or in a forest, can help you become more still, calmer, more present, and more aware.
It heightens your senses and self-awareness.
It helps you feel more connected to your body, your senses, and your breath.
As above, so below
Yogis believe in the phrase: “As above so below.”
This describes our relationship and connection with the heavens, universe, cosmos, etc. and also our connection to Mother Earth.
The forces above elevate us and our consciousness, and the forces below keep us grounded and balanced.
As Above: Increased Prana & Vitamin D
Yoga in nature connects us to the sky, the air element, and to the sun’s life-giving energy.
Sun energy is a major component of yoga practice because it’s regarded as a major source of prana (vital energy).
Prana is the invisible life force that flows through our body’s channels (nadis) and energy centers (chakras).
When prana flows freely and without blockage, we experience optimal physical, mental, and emotional health and wellness.
Blockages and low flow currents of prana create dis-ease and dis-comfort in our body, mind, and moods.
Yogis created an entire sequence of postures to honor and acknowledge the sun called Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar).
Practicing a few rounds of Sun Salutations in nature builds heat in the body (Tapas), and helps to create healthy energy flow and a fresh infusion of prana (vital energy).
Luckily science has caught up to ancient yogic wisdom.
Multiple studies have shown that Vitamin D, the only vitamin our skin produces in response to the sun’s rays, is crucial to our physical and mental health and well-being.
About half of the global population experiences low Vitamin D levels. (1)
Low Vitamin D levels are linked to:
- Compromised immune function
- Autoimmune issues
- Increased inflammation
- Heart disease
- Bone loss
- Muscle pains
- Cognitive impairment
- Slow wound healing
- Poor sleep
Having a regular yoga practice in nature can help your body produce more Vitamin D, although you may still need additional supplementation.
Optimal Vitamin D levels help the body become stronger and more resilient:
- Increased fertility
- Lower depression
- Lower insomnia
- Reduced anxiety
- Stronger immunity
- Better brain health
- Less inflammation
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Faster wound healing time
- Balanced blood sugar
- Stronger heart function
As Below: More Grounding (Earthing) & Prana
Practicing yoga in nature, especially on bare feet helps the body to connect with the Earth’s healing frequency.
Since we spend so much time indoors we don’t take advantage of this simple yet powerful opportunity to strengthen our bodies and minds.
Research says that the act of placing your bare feet on the ground helps you to absorb the Earth’s electrons and balancing electromagnetic energy.
You become like a sponge soaking it all up, and this translates to the following benefits: (2)(3)
- Improved immune function
- Less inflammation
- Improved sleep
- Less anxiety
- More inner calm
- More mental clarity
- Increased creativity
- Lowered risk of cancer
- Higher white blood cell count
- Less muscle soreness and stiffness
Science says this is what forest bathing & yoga can do to your body:
In 1982 Japan launched a national health program centered around forest bathing or what they called ‘Shinrin-Yoku” (taking in the forest atmosphere).
Since then, they’ve been researching the mental and physical health benefits of soaking in nature and forest energy in particular.
Studies have shown that spending time amongst trees and greenery is not only great for our mental health, it also causes a major boost in our immune system.
Forest bathing can increase the count of natural killer cells (NK) in the body. (4)
These cells are essential for immunity and help prevent infections from progressing.
Breathing in forest air and mindfully visiting amongst the trees has also shown to lower stress hormones such as cortisol. (5)
Since yoga practice merges mindfulness with movement and breathwork, it is the perfect adjunct to forest bathing.
A regular practice in nature can really serve as preventative medicine.