For most people, the idea of yoga conjures images of indoor studios with padded floors, air conditioning and Namaste plaques on the walls. While indoor classes are popular, studios shouldn’t be the only place you’re practicing your asanas. Why should you take your routine outside?
Easier To Ground When You’re On The Ground
In the Western world, we don’t often walk outside barefoot. We’re either indoors or exploring the world in rubber-soled shoes that block our connection with the earth.
Walking on dirt and grass in bare feet creates a connection between you and the earth, helping to equalize the electrical current we carry within our bodies, called the Earthing hypothesis. Even if you don’t believe that walking barefoot is beneficial, many reports have shown being outside in bare feet improves everything from immune function to and stress levels.
Taking your yoga practice outside does two things at once. First, it helps you ground your yoga practice by bringing you closer to the earth. Plus, it enables you to take advantage of the health benefits of walking barefoot.
Salute the Sun Instead of the Studio Wall
While every yoga class will be slightly different, there are two things you can expect to find in nearly every one — a cat/cow pose and a sun salutation. Of course, if you’re making your way through your vinyasa indoors, you’re not saluting the sun — you’re greeting the studio wall.
According to some yoga traditionalists, the sun salutation has been around for 2,500 years, evolving from a ritual prostration done at dawn to the flow we know and love today. Others say it came about in the 1920s or 30s. No matter its source, however, the goal is the same — to salute the sun and its journey across the sky.
Doing your sun salutation with the star’s rays beating down on you is an entirely different experience. Make sure you use sunscreen if you’re going to practice for more than 10 or 15 minutes in the sun.
Get The Whole Family Involved
Getting your family — especially the kids — into yoga can be challenging. Most children prefer to spend their days indoors behind computer screens or in front of televisions, not going outside. This trend is creating serious health problems with today’s youth. In fact, three out of every five children will likely be obese by the time they’re 35.
Kids may also be hesitant to ask to join your yoga practice because, to an outside observer, it might seem like something special or private. It might even seem like something that has to be done in complete silence when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Invite your kids outside with you next time you head for yoga practice. They might take to it quickly, or you may find yourself switching up your flow to cater to them. If you’ve got young kids, look for something like Dinosaur Yoga for kids. Use poses that you’re already familiar with, giving them dinosaur-themed names. Warrior 1 becomes the T-Rex pose, while Mountain Pose becomes the Volcano.
Get Inspired By the World Around You
Many of the poses you use in your flows are inspired by or named for things in nature, from the basic Tree Pose to the more complex Crow Pose. You might be surprised how much inspiration you get from the world around you when you practice yoga outside.
If you see a rabbit, add a rabbit pose to your flow — or a frog if there’s one near the garden. Even the spider in the yard can inspire if you’re willing to look. See what you can come up with!
Soak Up That Vitamin D
We spend so much time indoors that more than a billion people don’t get enough vitamin D. Not enough nutrients through sun exposure or diet can lead to bone problems like osteoporosis, muscle weakness and other health problems. If you don’t have enough Vitamin D in your body, it doesn’t matter how much calcium you eat — you only absorb about 15% of it.
You can’t get enough Vitamin D from your diet without taking supplements, which means spending time out in the sun is your only alternative. Spending 10 to 15 minutes outside each day will help your body produce enough vitamin D. Practicing your yoga outside doesn’t just help you de-stress and get more flexible — it can help keep you healthy too!
Want to Practice Yoga? Head Outside
While yoga studios can be helpful to learn how to get into each pose and keep breathing, no one loves the sweaty smell of a dozen bodies packed into a small space. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air as often as the weather allows. While there, you can enjoy a multitude of benefits, from new sources of inspiration to increased Vitamin D.