Connecting with Nature: The Benefits of Practicing Yoga Outdoors

It is the middle of summer in the Midwest. The days are long and the temperatures are warm. Exercising outdoors is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A favorite among many yogis is outdoor yoga. While yoga studios are often a relaxing, quiet, climate-controlled Zen environment, nothing can beat warm sunshine on your face, a gentle breeze on your skin, and the smell of cut grass and its coolness under the soles of your feet.

Are you ready to give outdoor yoga a try?

5 Benefits of Practicing Yoga Outside

1. Heightens Your Connection to Nature

Spending time in nature is one of the most obvious benefits of outdoor yoga. In nature, you are reminded of your connection to the planet and the outside world, appreciating our natural environment and its complex but delicate ecosystem. Witnessing our place in the natural world is both humbling and inspiring as we are reminded how interconnected we are to all living things. Practicing outdoors can be revitalizing. It lowers our stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate while increasing our cognitive functioning, creativity, and problem solving.

2.Strengthens Your Balance Skills

Outdoor yoga requires discipline and strength. It challenges our ability to maintain balance and stay upright. We can work with the unevenness of the ground and engage working muscles in a different way. Instead of getting discouraged or frustrated by lack of stability, we can work with it and build strength in new ways.

3. Deepens Your Meditation Practice

Sitting outside for a meditation practice deepens the awareness of our own energy – our prana, or life force. This is the same life force within all living beings. You can engage all your senses outside noticing different smells, sounds, and sensations on the skin. Practicing meditation outside can also help you embrace distractions and simply observe without judgement, staying in the present moment and focusing on the here and now.

4. Enhances Your Ability To Soak In The View

Being mindful during a yoga practice requires you to fully notice and absorb your moment-to-moment experience. This means paying attention and appreciating your surroundings. You can let the natural view reinvigorate you and your practice while working with the circumstances given to us as they are, not as we would like them to be.

5. Transports Your Yoga Practice

You don’t need the perfect place to do yoga. Yoga is a practice, meaning you can do it anywhere. You don’t even need a mat. Look around and see how nature can be used as a prop. Want to do legs up the wall outside? Let the trunk of a tree be your support and enjoy the view above. Are your hamstrings tight after a hike? Practice down dog with your hands on a boulder or bench and stretch out your legs. Let your practice be playful as you explore the outdoors and embody the yoga mindset, noticing and accepting the present moment.

The magic of yoga is that it can be done anywhere at any time. Let’s get back to nature by moving our bodies and enjoying the outdoors when we can. Pack your yoga mat and water bottle! Immerse yourself in nature at an outdoor class in your community.

Not sure where to go?

Check out all the free outdoor yoga classes in the Greater Des Moines Area.

Come practice with me, Mary McCarthy Resilience & Grace, every Wednesday from 6 – 6:45 pm at the Greenbelt Landing next to the Clive Aquatic Center June 1st – August 10th.

Mary and Megan Reuther met onsite to talk about the benefits of outdoor yoga for a Wellness Wednesday segment on Hello Iowa. Click here to watch the segment.

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