Practice 5 Reasons to Take Your Practice Outside We were born to be wild. By Zuzu Perkal Photo by Ali Kaukas Get Outside at a Wanderlust Festival! The benefits of practicing yoga in nature are endless. Simple and sweet: It feels amazing and is good for the soul. It strengthens your connection to the world around you as it invigorates your asana practice. Here are my favorite aspects of practicing in the great outdoors. 1. Hello, Sunshine! Playing in the sunshine increases happiness and gives your yoga practice a little extra boost. It warms the skin and soothes the soul. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin, aka the happy mood hormone. Even a brief 5–10 minutes in the sun will boost your Vitamin D intake to help to decrease stress levels and keep your bones strong. Move your practice to a local park, rooftop, backyard, or balcony. 2. Easy Breezy The flow of your practice should reflect an easy summer breeze—gentle yet powerful. When practicing outside, the wind blowing across your skin and through your hair is a courteous reminder to flow freely and smoothly. Allow the elements of the natural world to encourage a deeper exploration of the self. As your physical practice becomes even and peaceful like the wind, deepen your practice of pranayama (breath work) and meditation. Your breath is like a fluid breeze twirling through the trees and clouds. Find the seamless flow of your breath and open yourself up to the infinite possibilities within you. Flow on yogis, flow on. 3. Flower Child Learn to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Not just in your outdoor practice, but all the time. Always take a few extra moments to take a breath of fresh air, notice your surroundings, and appreciate the exquisiteness of life. As you move through your sequence, form the habit of actively using all five senses. Notice the way the grass feels under your toes, the warmth of the sunlight on your skin, the glorious smell of fresh wildflowers, the sounds of birds chirping, and the bright colors that create the landscape around you. Like a wildflower, your practice can grow wild and free—if you let it. 4. Stay Grounded It’s important to build a strong foundation within your practice. The areas of contact of the body to the Earth are where our power originates. Outdoor classes will restore and strengthen your stability, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. When you’re well grounded in your practice, you’ll become more stable, calm, and confident off the mat. Practicing outside barefoot will not only improve balance, but also energetically cleanse the body, mind, and spirit. Earth’s natural energy is enlivening. When our bodies come into contact with the Earth, we absorb free electrons that spread throughout our tissues to help to flush out free radicals. 5. Sky High Practicing beneath the bright blue sky, witnessing a beautiful sunset or sunrise, or playing under the night’s twinkling stars reminds us to be expansive, curious, and open. The vast sky above encourages an intimate practice between ourselves and the natural world around us. Watching clouds float by is the greatest free entertainment we can experience—constantly changing and restoring the universal connection of all living and non-living things. In the physical aspect of yoga, practicing outside and bringing the attention to the sky above can help to expand our movements and open muscle groups and energy centers. We are as boundless as the night’s sky, absolutely limitless in our potential. Reminder: You Are Limitless — Zuzu Perkal is an artist, photographer, yoga instructor, blogger, and pizza lover. Born in San Diego and currently living in Austin, Texas, she lives for creativity and connection. In 2010, after studying Creative Advertising at the University of Texas (one of the nation’s top rated portfolio schools), she chose the path of travel, exploration, art, and inspiration; wild and free. Fall down the rabbit hole… ihavepinkhair.com and @zuzubee.