The Miraculous Thing That Happens When You Take Your Yoga Practice Outside
It's 2017, and we’re boxed in. We live our lives indoors, online, and enclosed in the false fluorescent lights of offices, boardrooms, and yoga studios. For anything to grow, it must have sunlight—and this is especially relevant to our lives and our yoga practice.
It’s funny, really, because we were never meant to be boxed in; we were born free. So why are we happy to carry on indoors?
The answer is simple: We are biologically wired to seek shelter, and from an evolutionary standpoint, we feel safe inside and like we're in danger when we're outside. While this made sense for our ancestors, spending time outdoors is important too, especially because the outcome of an indoor yoga practice is always at least somewhat predictable. No matter how amazing your practice is, you’re still boxed in with a defined set of parameters. As humans, these boxes are comfortable and safe; they give us certainty and sanity. Studios are defined by their limits. But as humans, we should not be.
Since the early 1980s and the rise of the Western yoga studio, our practices have fallen victim to indoor spaces. Like caged animals, we are confined to a routine or a pattern of practice because it’s easy and convenient. There will always be a place for yoga studios, and for many city dwellers, myself included, studios help to maintain our regular practice.
Take your practice outside and watch it grow.
Think about how amazing your favorite class would be if it were taught in the exact same way but outside in the sunshine on the green grass, or first thing in the morning, outside on a rooftop, as the world is waking up. When we take the time to practice outside—that's where the growth happens and the connections deepen.
As living and breathing organisms, we need sunlight and fresh air to grow. We need real-life inspiration and experiences, and that goes for our practice as well. So break the routine, bust out of the box, and move your mat outside to feel the shift. Going outside recharges the mind, rejuvenates the body, and inspires life.
There is no posture you can do inside that will make you feel as good as saluting the sun at sunrise, or taking a tree pose surrounded by an army of oaks. When we get a chance to really connect to what's real, we start to feel so much more, and this is the real power of the practice.
So when you can, go outside. See something; smell something. Go outside and live. I guarantee you’ll feel more inside every time you step onto the mat.
A mantra for your outdoor practice.
Whenever I find myself taking my practice inside day after day, I call this mantra to mind and it encourages me to get outside.
Practice by the ocean because the waves remind us how to breathe.Practice under the stars because we realize life is beautiful when you keep your head up.Practice in the sunshine because the warmth reminds us how to feel.Break with the routine, and connect with the moment.Practice outside, so you can feel more inside.
See you on the mat.
Love taking your practice outdoors? Find out how spending time outdoors transformed Jordan Younger's gut health.
Michael James Wong is an inspirational speaker, meditator, author, global yogi, and wellness warrior who is recognized as a leading voice in the global wellness movement for yoga and modern mindfulness.
Michael's passion is to inspire the masses about the benefits of a mindful way of living on and off the yoga mat. A Los Angeles native who now travels the world speaking, teaching, and sharing the practice, Michael has a relationship with yoga and wellness that spans the past 15 years, practicing with some of the most inspiring teachers and spiritual leaders around the world. Always a student first, Michael continues to teach with a powerful body, open mind, and fearless heart.
Michael is the founder of three mindful movements, Just Breathe, BOYS OF YOGA, and Sunday School Yoga, that focus on building community, connection, and quiet. Follow the journey, or better yet, get involved.