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Take Your Practice Outdoors

I love waking up early on a summer morning and stepping outside into the freshness of a new day. The birds are singing as they scout for their breakfast. The earth and plants, still damp with dew, smell so inviting. The trees gently sway in the soft breeze. All of this creates a peaceful setting for some yoga practice.

Energizing Breath is a wonderful way to wake up the body, even if you don’t have time for more asanas. Practicing outside is a treat. Take in the fresh morning air as you raise your arms, embracing the morning and the world around you, and then breathe out through your mouth as your arms float to your sides.

If there’s still a nip in the air you’ll probably want to warm up quickly. After a few gentle stretches, there’s nothing quite like acknowledging the presence of the sun, as the first gentle rays of warmth caress your skin. Salute to the Sun will loosen and warm your entire body. Start with slow movements, perhaps holding each position for a few breaths, before speeding it up.

This link has a slower version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN9TQytknDM.

Some days you may want to practice slowly and that might be your whole asana session. Other days, it might feel good to move more quickly. I often follow Salute to the Sun with standing poses, continuing to build and maintain strength. Whatever you choose to do, tune into your body and just let your practice unfold. You might also want to do some sitting poses or twists. Belly-down backbends bring you closer to the support of the earth while strengthening your back. When doing spinal twists outdoors, you can also exercise your eyes by turning them to the left or right and noticing all the things you can see, both near and far.

As I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m a big fan of practicing outdoors whenever possible—it’s quite a different experience. It helps us remember our connection to the natural world around us, lets us feel that we are also a part of this wonderful creation, and banishes our personal troubles, at least for a time.

If you don’t have a yard, deck, or balcony where you can do yoga outside, why not try a nearby park? More and more people are practicing in parks these days. You may like to create your own yoga group, getting together with friends once or twice a week to practice. The buddy system helps keep everyone practicing regularly, plus it’s nice to see friends a bit more often. You may even meet some new ones!

Of course, early morning isn’t the only time you can practice outside. Depending on your schedule, evening may be better for you, and sunset is such a special and beautiful time of day. (Light a citronella candle or two if you have mosquitos). Also, consider the weather. If it’s really hot where you live, early morning or around dusk may be best, as you’ll want to avoid practicing in the hot sun. If you live in a cooler climate, though, even midday may be fine. Practice in the shade, if necessary, and hydrate well before and afterwards.

Whether you practice morning or evening, save a few minutes for Yoga Sound Meditation. In the morning, it will leave you calm and better prepared to handle the day ahead. In the middle of the day, it’s like taking a mini-vacation—a time-out from the busy day. In the evening, it’s so nice to sit outdoors and feel the change from day to night as you meditate. It’s the perfect way to wind down before dinner or as a lead-up to a restful night’s sleep.

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