Taking Your Yoga Practice Outside this Summer
Taking your Yoga practice outdoors in the sunny weather can be easier than you think, and with the added benefits of the outdoors it makes for an amazing combination. There is a growing interest in outdoor Yoga classes here in Ottawa. There are free Yoga classes throughout the summer at noon at Parliament Hill, as well as Free Yoga classes Saturday mornings at Landsdowne Park at 9:45am, check them out!
The Benefits of Practicing Yoga Outdoors
Grounding! Also known as earthing, this is when you place your bare feet on the earth. Not the side walk or road, but the grass, sand, and soil. You only need a few minutes of grounding to stimulate the healing qualities, and it can increase healing, normalize blood flow, supports hormone health, improves sleep, reduces pain, improves energy, and more, anyone can do this, and its best to ground yourself for a few moments before you get on your mat. Other benefits is getting your daily dose of Vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and gives you the chance to re-connect with nature.
Find/Create Your Space
This is easier to do than you’d think! Anywhere there is a dry patch of grass, under a tree, on the beach, at the park, even in your gazebo or on your deck in your back yard will be a divine place to practice. There's a benefit to practice in the water at the beach because this is a great way to try inversions in a playful way, especially if you're a beginner. The best times to practice outdoors would be first thing in the morning or just before it gets dark, these times are typically cooler and you wont’ be bothered by bugs as much. As for your Yoga practice, there are many books that have sequenced classes, and today we are lucky to have access to online classes that can be played on cell phones and hand held devices, Yoga is becoming more accessible to all! That being said, this time can also be used to sit and meditate, contemplate, and turn within. Yoga is not just a practice of putting our body into different shapes, its also about taking the time to slow down and give your thought process a break, this is the essence of Yoga, and is as important as the Asanas. On a final note, Pranayama outdoors under a tree is so incredibly soothing and peaceful, I highly recommend it!
Yoga Before and After Physical Activity and Sport Nights
Yoga asana’s are a great way to warm and stretch the body before and after your walks, runs, sporting events, even concerts and all day events. As little as 10 minutes of yoga before your game can help prevent strains, sprains, and injuries. Yoga afterwards can encourage your muscles to relax and repair quicker, and can reduce cramps and tension that can creep up later on, or overnight. There is also something to be said about how calming a practice before your game can be, and when your playing with a sense of calm, there will naturally be better sportsmanship amongst players. Bringing Yoga into my walk rituals made the whole trip feel like a moving meditation and practice in one, I can barley notice where one ends and one starts. To start, I begin with a blend of Sun Salutations like Classic sun salutation, sun salutations A and B, as well as dancing warrior sun salutations. These sun sals stretch the whole body and warms up your muscles, it increases circulation and improves energy, it basically gets you ready to move and go. Afterwards, I focus on holding asanas as I stretch into them. I aim for open and close hip variations, lateral stretches, back bends, twists, forward bends, and inversions. Its best to create a series before starting, and do what feels right at that time.
Its always important to remember put on your sun screen on, and take some water with you when you practice Yoga outdoors! Practice on your own, or invite your family members to join you, start with a 20 minute practice and gradually increase the time at your own pace. Taking your practice outdoors makes your practice accessible even when you are away from home, at the cottage, on vacation, camping, and so on. Remember, a little bit of Yoga every day is more therapeutic than a long class once a week, practice makes progress.