Being outside can intensify the yoga experience in many ways, since nature inspires you to focus on awareness, breathing deeply and practicing stillness. First, though, you have to think more in terms of embracing rather than battling the elements. It can help to remind yourself that a breeze can deepen your breathing, the warm sun can deepen poses by making muscles more pliable, and a ladybug can invite you to focus on something small and still.
Many aspects of yoga are in fact about being in the moment and at one with nature or the universe. That’s why so many asanas reflect animals and nature. By putting your body into the shape of a tree or a stretching cat, by exploring the graceful wingspan of a bird or the fluidity of the Sun Salute, by breathing with the same cyclical sense as the tides or with an ocean sound, you evoke a sense of harmony, timelessness, and connection to the universe.
Uneven, natural surfaces such as sand, grass, or the woodland floor can intensify a yoga posture and its physical benefits. Practicing on uneven surface like the sand builds the secondary muscles of a yogi’s feet, hips, knees, spine, and shoulders.
Whether you use a yoga mat or not depends on the terrain, as well as personal preference. On a smooth, warm rock you may not want a mat, but on crunchy pine needles during forest sadhana, it’s necessary. For grass and sand, it’s really up to what feels good.
A mat can also provide a stronger, more stable base despite shifting or uneven earth. Using a mat helps you engage the push-pull of a Downward Dog or to spread your toes and use the feet quads to press the front leg forward and back leg back in a Warrior.
Pairing up yoga and nature can be an incredible experience if students are ready to embrace the outdoors. When the classroom is outdoors, free of the mirrors and windows, the ‘yoga scene’ is left in the dust. The open space really expands everyone, and there’s an instantaneous freedom you just can’t replicate indoors.
Here are some great places to start your outdoor yoga experience:
Aalborg, Denmark: Yoga in the Park
Aarhus, Denmark: Yoga i det fri
Copenhagen, Denmark: Outdoor Yoga
London, UK: Creative Yoga London
Hamburg, Germany: Yogaraum Hamburg
Munich, Germany: AIRYOGA München
Berlin, Germany: Spirit Yoga Berlin
Oslo, Norway: Outdoor YOGA in Oslo
And a long list of amazing outdoor yoga events in Sweden: YOGOBE
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