Practicing yoga outdoors offers a different and multi-faceted experience that you can’t find inside the four walls of a yoga studio.
Whether new on the yogic path or a seasoned veteran, every yogi deserves the chance to experience outdoor yoga at least once.
Although we all have different perceptions and experiences, most people end up reporting certain benefits after practicing outdoors:
- Boosted mood
- Better sleep
- Lower stress levels
- Stronger health
- Increased balance
Here are three reasons why you’ll want to give it a try:
1. Union with your inner & outer environment
At its core, the main goal and purpose of yoga is to experience a sense of union and connection – to yourself and your body first and then to the external world around you.
By practicing outside, you’re positioning yourself in direct communion with the Earth.
Think about it.
Whether you choose to practice on a mat or not, you’re in closer proximity to the raw ground below you and the elements around you – the wind blowing, sun shining, and birds chirping.
This can help you drop into your own body more deeply.
Then, when you weave yoga poses together to create a flow and incorporate your breath you’re literally merging with the Earth.
Yogis believe that breath is life and breathing deeply, intentionally, and consciously outdoors can infuse you with more life force.
Like meditation teacher Charlie Knoles explains:
“Breath is the thing that connects us to the entire biome.
If you think of the Earth as a living organism, the Earth does something very beautiful and complementary to us:
It inhales carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen which is why we have this beautiful oxygen-rich atmosphere.
And we, in turn, inhale oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.
The exact opposite process.
So there’s a complementary pattern where we breathe in what the Earth breathes out.
When we breathe out, the Earth breathes that back in again.
And this process of breathing in oxygen into our bodies is a process of transformation.
We are literally breathing the outside into ourselves.”
2. Grounding & Increasing Prana
Yogis believe that prana energy (vital energy, life force) circulates through everything and everyone.
Prana is what gives you life, energy, creativity, and impetus.
We experience mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being when prana flows freely through our body’s channels (nadis) and energy centers (chakras).
Practicing yoga outdoors helps us tap into this abundant source of energy and helps us to unblock whatever energy blockages may be present in our bodies.
This is what the scientific community now refers to as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing.’
Being in direct contact with Mother Earth by being barefoot on the ground, laying down on the grass, resting against a tree helps you soak up her healing frequencies, and electrons like a sponge soaks up water.
This is the very essence of increasing prana energy in the body.
As modern yogis and members of society, we tend to spend most of our time indoors, connected to electronics, and under superficial light.
Research suggests that it’s this very disconnect from nature that leads to physical and mental dysfunction and dis-ease.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental & Public Health found that reconnecting to the Earth’s frequency and electrons can impact body function and result in less pain, lower stress hormones, lower inflammation levels, boosted immune function, better sleep, less anxiety, and more inner calm. (1) (2)
3. Increased Vitamin D levels
Ancient yogis believe there is a powerful union and connection (yoga) between the sun’s energy and us.
They even dedicated a series of postures to the sun, which is Sanskrit is Surya.
Commonly known as Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), these poses are meant to invigorate and strengthen the body while making the spine and joints more flexible.
This ancient yogic wisdom is now backed by scientific evidence that tells us that spending time outdoors in the sunshine helps us keep our Vitamin D at optimal levels.
Vitamin D is the only vitamin that’s produced in your skin as a response to sunlight.
It’s estimated that almost 50% of the world’s population has a Vitamin D deficiency. (3)
Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to lower immune function, increased illness, fatigue, muscle and bone pain, slower wound healing time, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even hair loss.
Optimal Vitamin D levels have these benefits: (3)
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Boost immunity
- Can decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity
- Can help ameliorate autoimmune issues
- Lowers the risk of depression and anxiety
- Accelerates wound healing
- Lowers your risk of bone fractures
- Helps you fight the influenza virus
Can you see why choosing to practice outside in natural light as opposed to artificial light can be very helpful and healing?
Some considerations before you practice outside:
Is the area clean and safe? (i.e. no broken glass or debris around, no poisonous shrubs)
What time of the day are you practicing?
Are you wearing sun protection, especially if the sun is strong?
Are you staying hydrated and bringing water?
Are you mindful of potential mosquitos, flies, and other pests?