This week the weather has been so lovely I have been practising yoga outside. On Monday I went to teach a regular session at a private house in a Suffolk village and was lucky enough to be invited to hold the class in the garden. The sun was shining; there was a gentle breeze blowing; the sound of leaves rustling and birds overhead and best of all we were barefoot on the grass which felt delicious.
Enjoying the smells and sounds of nature, feeling the soft springy grass underfoot and savouring the warm sunshine on the skin was wonderfully invigorating. It was a true sensory experience. Even though I was teaching the class I felt as if I’d experienced a relaxing retreat and went away feeling really well .
Although I have a small town garden I felt inspired to start some outdoor practice and it certainly adds another element to yoga. The word Yoga means ‘union’, which is usually interpreted as meaning union of the body, mind and spirit, but when you add the extra dimension of being outdoors it can also make you feel at one with nature and the universe.
If you don’t have a garden you could consider practising outside in a park or on a beach if you’re lucky enough to go away somewhere.
The advantage of yoga in the summer means that muscles are likely to be more flexible and there is less need to warm up at the start of the practice. You are likely to be able to go into postures more deeply and hold stretches for longer. If you are practising outdoors you can really benefit from energising breathing practises as being out in the fresh air seems to heighten breath awareness and help the breath to flow. It also makes the endorphines flow so you feel really good, as if you have experienced a mini holiday!
In yoga you have loads of practices to choose from. So if you are feeling very hot you can choose cooling practices such as a simple, alternate nostril breathing where you breathe in through the left nostril and out through the right, as well as slow, calming postures such as forward folds and relaxation poses like ‘Balasana’ -Pose of a Child. And if you feel really hot, why not do one of the best practices of all and lie down on the ground in Savasana and enjoy listening to the sounds of nature and being in the moment?