I don’t know about you, but where I’m from, once the weather gets warm, people get really excited about doing yoga in the park. Whenever I go I’m always shocked by the sheer volume of people that show up with their mats and yoga capris to do yoga for an hour in the outdoors. I think part of it is the novelty of it all, but there are also some really great benefits of practicing yoga outdoors. I always feel refreshed and revived after an outdoor yoga session, but why is this and what are some other benefits?
First off, it may help improve your balance, which is a necessary part of any yoga practice. Finding or maintaining your balance in certain poses can be easier inside than outside. Inside you generally have a stable surface to stand on and one thing you can focus on. Outside, the surface is a lot more unpredictable and unsteady. This causes you to focus more to maintain your balance. While this can be challenging because there is no such thing as a flat surface outside, the more you practice, the better your body will be able to balance.
When I’m at work and hit the afternoon slump but don’t want to spend five bucks on a coffee, I take a walk outside to try and get some energy flowing. According to a study done by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, when we spend time outside, our bodies recall back to a time when we were hunter gatherer’s and recalibrates to be more alert, causing us to be more energized. Studies have also shown that being around nature makes us feel revitalized. Also, we all know that any time spent in the sun gives us an extra dose of Vitamin D which not only helps improve mood but also helps to guard against diseases like heart disease and the flu! So please! Spend some time practicing yoga outside.
Meditation on its own has a variety of benefits, and studies have shown that those who meditate have a smaller amygdala than those that do not meditate. The Amygdala is the part of the brain that houses our fight or flight instinct and plays a big role in determining the body’s response to stress. In a study from the Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine , the researcher notes that those who spend time outside have lower doses of the stress hormone cortisol. The combination of meditation and being outside is sure to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after meditating outdoors!
The outdoors can do great things for your yoga practice. It can help you improve not only your form and balance, but also help with your mental strength. I do get incredibly excited when the weather starts to warm up and I start seeing signs up about Yoga in the Park. While the times for Yoga in the Park can be relatively early, especially for a Saturday, how I feel after attending a session is worth it! My morning coffee can certainly give me an extra boost for a few hours, but practicing yoga outdoors seems to offer something with more longevity.