Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and the perfect time to get outside and connect with nature. It’s also International Yoga Day. May I suggest celebrating both with some outdoor yoga?
Science tells us that moving our body promotes good health, as does being in nature. Specifically, new research recommends that we spend 120 minutes (2 hours) per week in nature, whether that’s taking a daily 20-minute walk through your neighborhood park or a long weekend bike ride in your favorite nature preserve.
Yoga provides another way to connect with our bodies and our planet. Many yoga poses (downward dog, cobra, tree and eagle) are named for things in nature. Some yoga traditions honor planetary events, like full moons, with specific practices or as a time for reflection.
As a practicing yogi for 15 years and a teacher for 10, I have witnessed the benefits my students derive from their yoga practice – better awareness of their breath; improved balance, flexibility and strength; and a feeling of community with other yogis.
Bringing your practice outside takes it to the next level. In Sun Salutation, as you inhale and reach your hands to the sky, you are, literally, reaching for and shining your face to the sun. The grounded feeling you get standing tall in mountain pose or laying on your back in Savasanna deepens when you are in physical contact with the earth. And there is nothing quite like doing “Tree Pose” in or on a tree. It encourages us to interact with our natural surroundings in a playful way. I bet you’re smiling just thinking about it.
So, today, why not spend some of your extra daylight time outside saluting the sun?!