The Benefits of Practicing Outdoors

in Move/Yoga by

I’m not sure if it’s the fresh air or the sense of freedom you get when you practice in an open space, but there’s something about practicing in nature that really boosts my experience.

Whether it’s a morning walk, followed by a nice yoga flow or an hour of mindful breathing and meditation, taking whatever you plan on doing outside makes a big difference.

You’ll have more fun
Studies have shown that working out outside can be very beneficial, not only for the body but for the mind too. Breathing fresh air helps revitalize and clear the mind, making you feel better and boosting your energy levels.

You connect with nature
How cool is it to wear something comfortable, take off your socks, twist into a revolved triangle pose, and look up to see a bright blue sky and feel a nice breeze cooling you off? Or simply doing your sun salutations outside and saluting the sun for real. And of course, there’s striking a pretty tree pose next to a tree. How awesome it is to feel part of the bigger picture. So many yoga asanas represent or are named after animals or elements of nature. In fact Yoga teaches a lot about aligning and being one with nature. The great outdoors is the perfect landscape for this practice.

You’ll probably go on for longer
Try working out outside and you won’t believe how much faster time travels when you aren’t stuck between four walls. When you’re distracted by new faces, birds, a beautiful tree or anything nature brings your way, you focus less on how tired you are. You’re likely not to notice how far you’ve run or how long you’ve been holding that plank.

You’ll get the chance to reflect
Even though working out anywhere is likely to help you clear your mind and make better choices, doing so outside is proven to be more effective. Going for a run and allowing the mind to wander through beautiful green landscapes or the tranquil sound of running water has a calming effect that helps you think more clearly. Your mind is more prepared to make decisions, or even let previous lessons sink in. It can be very meditative to preoccupy the body and let the mind think whatever it chooses to think. 

You develop inner strength and acceptance
Ideally, most of us prefer undertaking activities in a controlled environment. If it’s too hot we turn on the AC and if it’s too loud we close the door. This is not the case when you’re practicing outside. The ground might be uneven, it could start raining, a bug might crawl on your mat or even on your feet, but you learn to embrace those distractions, make minor adjustments and continue with your practice. It’s easy to focus when it’s quiet, but it’s definitely a challenge when you have to take outer elements into consideration and one way or another make them part of your practice. You grow and learn to accept the things you can’t control, not only on the mat but in all aspects of your life.

So do yourself a favor and go outside for a little physical activity, even if it’s just a few stretches. Just make sure you use sunscreen and stay hydrated!

Farida Abou El Dahab is a self-taught yogini based in Alexandria.
She’s a Finance graduate that happened to find her passion elsewhere and decided to pursue her dream of becoming a yoga teacher.
She was first introduced to yoga in 2013 after struggling with a back injury for almost a year, and it wasn’t long before she discovered the wonders of this physical, mental and spiritual practice.
She strongly believes in grey areas and that life doesn’t have to be black or white. She believes in finding your balance and staying true to who you are.

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