We know spending time in nature is good for us. Why not double up on the benefits by embracing winter and taking your yoga practice outside?
Yoga, a year-round activity
Just because the weather turns cold, doesn’t mean you need to stay inside. Snowga, combining yoga and snow, is a popular way of shaking up your routine. Snowga practices tend to involve more layers than other outdoor practices. It’s a chance to embrace your inner child. The snow is also a lot softer than an indoor floor or hard ground, so Canmore, AB-based yoga teacher Sarah Harvie encourages students to try out their balance poses in the snow. “If they fall, they’re falling into snow,” she says. “It’s less intimidating than inside.”
The energy that you pick up from being outside is valuable.
When Kandra Cassar is teaching an outdoor yoga practice, she doesn’t always sync the routine with music, rather she connects with Mother Nature. “We’ll be doing a heart-opener and all of a sudden the wind picks up,” she says. “It’s just perfect.”
Taking your yoga practice outside can also affect strength and balance. When you’re in the studio, it’s a closed environment so you know that each time you place your foot, it’s going to be on something that’s flat. “When you’re outdoors, you’re practising on uneven surfaces,” says outdoor yoga teacher Jessica Humphries of ÉnerJ. So your stabilizer muscles in your ankles, legs and wrists get more of a workout as well as your core muscles.
There are also plenty of elements outside to create that deeper connection to nature. Cassar’s outdoor classes with Bohemian Bliss Yoga incorporate everything from bright sunflowers to calming lavender fields. “Flowers just make people happy,” she says. “There’s no way you would ever leave without a smiling face after a sunflower class.”
That time spent in nature is also good for our bodies. Stress is reduced and our immune systems get a little boost. “So in a time when we’re thinking about infectious diseases pretty much constantly, being able to boost our immune system and then reduce the stress that we’re experiencing as a society is huge,” says Prince Edward Island-based outdoor yoga teacher Heather Gunn McQuillan.
Take the ego out of it
Just like in life, yoga isn’t always perfect and taking our practice outside can help dissolve the ego around getting a pose to look a certain way.
“In the studio, we tend to compare ourselves against others, or we look in the mirror and compare; we look at ourselves,” says Humphries. “The teacher tells us not to be competitive or judgemental, but people just tend to be in that mind frame.
If you completely change your environment and add a fun aspect to it, we forget about the competition and the judgement and we just go into pure fun.Jessica Humphries.
Don’t be afraid to take your yoga practice outside, even in the winter. Your body and mind will appreciate it.
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