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Yoga Al Fresco

Connecting with the elements

Practicing yoga outside

I’ve just returned from a trip to the West Coast of Scotland, a place I’ve always loved, from being a little girl. For me, this is a place I can connect with the elements (the water element was particularly present this trip!), a place to be peaceful, still and to restore.

If you are a regular to my classes you will know that the seasons very much inspire my yoga, changing to suit each month’s weather and energy. I talk less about the elements, but they are nevertheless, very much in mind when I practice my seasonal yoga and plan my lessons.

Practicing yoga outside is a real treat. I love it when I’m at home, in my garden or sneaking a posture or two in when I’m walking, and I’ve taken part in some amazing outdoor yoga sessions when I’ve been on holidays and retreats. On this recent trip I practiced outside whenever I could, occasionally in beautiful sunshine! Whatever the weather it was always special, with a peacefulness that came quickly and deeply, a sense of being at one with everything around me.

If you’ve never practiced your yoga outside before do give it a try! Choose a posture or sequence that you really love (for practical reasons you may prefer to stick with the standing poses). My personal outdoor favourites are Earth Sequence, Dru’s energy block release sequences 1 or 3, and the balancing postures. Also great though, are triangles and warriors. If you are little shy, just stand in the Mountain pose and whilst all the internal magical yoga things are happening to you, to the rest of the world you just look like you are admiring the view 🙂

Whatever yoga you feel inspired to practice, take time to let yourself become still. Connect with the earth beneath you. Really feel it, allow the stillness and stability of the earth to flow through you. Rise tall from your firm foundations.

As you tune in to the natural flow of your breath become aware of any water around you. Perhaps you hear or see the sea, a river, a stream? Maybe feel rain or the damp of the atmosphere against your skin. As you focus on the water element, allow your breath to become fluid, flowing in and out, no constriction or boundaries, co-ordinate your breath with your movements.

Focus for a moment now on the fire element, the sun. Embrace any warmth. Be aware of the quality of the light. Begin to bring fire into your yoga by engaging your core muscles, stoking the internal fires, giving energy to your dreams or being open to creative ideas. This is the perfect time in your practice to use affirmations and visualisations.

Be aware now of the sound and feel of the wind. As you move feel your mind and body expanding with rhythm and grace. Move with lightness, no tension or strain.

I think the real joy of yoga outside is the sense of deep stillness that it brings (this is regardless of the weather conditions). There is an awareness that can come when we are fully present, in the Now.

When you are ready to complete your outdoor yoga, return your focus to your connection with the earth. Rest here, observing the affects of your practice.

I hope this has inspired you to yoga outside! Do share with us your favourite al fresco yoga posture or place to practice – inspire us further 🙂 Ix

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