Tap into the beauty of outdoor yoga with FP Escapes Instructor Crystal Dawn Froberg.
“Earth my body, Water my blood, Air my breath and Fire my spirit. “ — Native American Chant
Nature has always been the best medicine for humans, and to mix nature and yoga is truly a perfect recipe for optimal health. As a yoga teacher in Long Beach Island, NJ, summer proves the best time to practice in nature as often as possible. The Radiant Heart Yoga School I run has an entire module on the concept of what we call Eco-Yoga! We train our students how to practice and teach safely in all types of natural environments from beach and SUP yoga to yoga hikes.
Yoga is an invitation to your highest, most vibrant self. Yoga is one great act of self care which allows us to create harmony amongst all parts — of our bodies, our systems, our lives, our relationships. It’s an unlearning, a reorganizing, a bliss-inducing practice that invites us to find more joy in our lives, to find deeper connections with our surroundings and one another, and to simply be more amazing to each other. For real.
Yoga with nature as your backdrop? Even better. Practicing alongside the sea, the trees, the wind, the birds, the sun or even the moon, amplifies the experience immensely. It reminds us that we are not just a part of nature, but that we ARE nature.
How to practice in nature…
Whether it be the at the beach, in the forest, hiking up a mountain or your front lawn, practicing yoga outdoors is an amazing way to connect with nature. There are certain little details that can help you carefully, mindfully and safely practice while outdoors.
Tips for your mat…or no mat!
– Best way to practice on the beach? Bring a huge oversized towel or beach blanket, and spread it out on even sand. A few little morsels will find their way to you, but that’s the beauty of being in nature. Oh and definitely put on some lovely natural sunscreen!
– The forest is such a sweet way to get grounded with nature and your practice. You can surely bring a mat, but I suggest just using Mama Earth to hold you up. You may get a little dirty but that’s the fun of it.
– When hiking mountains, if you can get your hands on a lovely little travel mat, that’s the best. It’s small enough to fit right in your backpack and is lightweight.
Asanas in Nature
– Beach Yoga is pure bliss. Best for any pranayama practice connecting your breath with the waves and the vastness of the sky. I say keep it simple on the beach, be mindful of your joints and your stance, make sure you’re rooted for any balancing poses. Find a nice, gentle, fluid flow matching the watery element around you. It is most fun to mindfully play around with handstands and inversion on the beach — it’s a softer place to land than a studio floor!
– While frolicking in the forest you can stop at any point, face a tree and take your tree pose. Make a true connection to a pose you practice often and realize how much you honor this shape and the living, oxygen-giving force of a tree. You can gently practice inversions alongside a tree or two as well, being respectful of the tree and be sure that the ground is sturdy. Finding a bed of moss is best for the most luscious savasana ever.
– While hiking any mountain you can find big boulders and rocks on which to practice (ever so carefully) any standing pose or arm balance. Of course, this boulder or rock should not be on the side of the mountain, — all kidding aside — be smart.
Tapping into the healing quality of the elements
– To truly tune into and embody the qualities we find in nature, outdoor meditation is the best medicine. Find a quiet place, bring a cushion, pile up some sand on the beach, or find a steady rock to sit your down on. Find a sweet, steady rhythm in your breathing and sit for as long as you wish.
– Chanting or reciting mantras can guide you gently right to the present moment, to what is around you in the here and now. Some of my favorite mantras or quotes are by the dear Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen Buddhist Monk. Repeat these out loud or silently to yourself. Below are a few of my personal favorites…
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh”
“Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.
Breathing out, I feel solid.”
“Breathing in, I see myself as still water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.”
“Breathing in, I see myself as space.
Breathing out, I feel free.”