Practicing yoga and meditation outside is a fabulous way to connect with the beautiful planet we live on. To connect with the vibrations of the colours, sounds and scents of nature. With the very vibration of the earth itself. To see and feel it. To appreciate it. To marvel. And to reconnect with your own true nature.
It’s a beautiful way to just feel happy and peaceful. And to release stress and negative energies. Nature heals.
The connection with nature will amplify the power of your practice. And offer you a whole new perspective. It will awaken and activate your senses for a totally different practice - turning it into a multi-sensory mindfulness practice.
Awakening and paying attention to all five of your senses is a wonderful way to ground yourself in the present moment and to stay focused. When you practice in nature, and you have an opportunity to pay attention to all your senses, so each pose, each meditation, each gesture becomes an exercise in mindfulness.
You don’t need to go far to find nature! Just step out your door and make your way to your yard, deck, or balcony, to a park, a beach or a forest near by.
You can take your usual yoga and/or meditation routine and simply move it outside, or try any of these 6 outdoor mini-practices. Each one is an exercise in mindfulness, an opportunity to connect deeply with the present moment through the power of awareness of your senses.
Just notice - be mindful of your 5 senses. Focus on one after the other. Lean into each one, experience each of your senses with deep awareness. They are your doors and windows to the world.
A Pose With a View
Find a place with a beautiful view. Then choose one single pose to do while taking in your view. Tree pose is an excellent one for this. You could also try triangle pose or any other standing pose. As you move mindfully into your pose, you may notice that standing on grass, rocks or sand creates a different sensation, a certain unsteadiness that is very different from your practice at home on a mat. Notice how your muscles adapt to this. The view creates a different focus… standing poses may feel different with such a broad and extensive view and you may find it harder to focus your eyes, and thus harder to maintain your balance. Explore a little by focusing on one point, then softening your gaze and noticing how that changes the experience of your pose.
Garden Mindfulness Practice
The life of a garden is a great way to tune into your senses and practice being in the present moment, even if you are not a gardener. Here are some things you can do to build your awareness while sitting in a garden.
Find a beautiful garden and take a comfortable seat to start. First close your eyes and breathe…feel like you are breathing in the powerful energy of the earth, of the plants and flowers, the insects and the birds. And breathing out any stress you may be holding.
And then just notice. With your eyes open, you can notice what you see. With your eyes closed, you can focus on what you hear and what you smell. Exploring a little further than your seat and you can notice what you feel with your hands and feet. Smell the plants up close. Maybe even taste some herbs or edible flowers.
You could notice any and all of the following:
Wherever you live, there will be a sunset everyday. Find a place where you can watch it. If you can’t see the horizon from where you are, you can still see the sky in the direction of the sunset. Find your spot, and sit comfortably on the ground for the best connection to the vibrations of the earth. Use a meditation cushion or a folded blanket, or a bolster if you need to raise your hips for greater comfort. First close your eyes, and focus on the flow of your breath, as you inhale and exhale. Connect with the sun energy. Then open your eyes. Without looking directly at the sun, notice:
Sandy Beach Yoga
Can you find a sandy beach near to your home? An ocean, a lake, a river, a sandy spot at a bend in a stream? No yoga mat required for a sandy beach yoga practice. Just your senses. What will you practice? A series of sun salutations, a sequence of 5 standing poses, or a seated practice, settling you into the sand…it’s your choice. And at some point in your practice, stay low to the ground, and swirl your hands through the sand, from side to side. Be sure to include downward facing dog which is a wonderful pose to experience the sensations of the sand.
Barefoot Nature-Walking Meditation
Walking meditation is a way to wake up to the little miracle that walking really is. It’s a little miracle to have the strength, balance and intelligence to move ourselves forward, upright on two feet. We are the only creatures on the planet capable of doing that!
Take your mindful walking practice outside: to your yard, a park, a quiet forest path. Walk slowly,… connect your breath as you walk…then explore synchronizing your breath with your steps.
As you walk, notice:
Natural Mandala Meditation
This is a contemplative practice to create a piece of meditative, ephemeral art. A mandala is an ancient art form, and a tool to guide you on your personal journey of transformation. Said to be a sacred depiction of the Universe, a mandala helps you to build awareness of something larger than your own self and world. It is an intricate, circular, geometric composition created to provide wisdom for your personal spiritual journey. And the creation and contemplation of a mandala can help release negative energy and relax your mind.
In this mini practice you will create you own mandala on the ground using natural elements you find around you. It’s really fun to do.
First, set your intention for the creation of your mandala. Then take a walk around your garden, the park or the woods to collect whatever inspires you to create your mandala: leaves, flowers, branches, pine cones, shells, stones, seeds, berries, bark…whatever appeals to you. Find a flat place on the ground with enough space for your mandala. I use my patio flagstones. You could also use an outdoor table. Mindfully create your circular mandala, focusing on your intention. Place your elements in circles, repeat patterns, add rings and layers of elements until you are satisfied with your work of art.
When finished, meditate on your mandala for as long as you like. Then you can leave your work of art for the wind to carry away, or gather it up and take it to a river, lake or a stream and release the petals and leaves. By doing this, you symbolize the impermanence of life, that everything is constantly moving and changing. You can imagine that any negative thoughts or energy is carried away with the mandala and transformed into something new and beautiful.
As you are collecting your natural elements and creating your mandala, notice:
Learn more about tuning into the power of natural mandalas HERE.
Don’t forget your sunscreen if you plan to be in the sun for any longer than 15 minutes. SPF 30 or higher is recommended (can you tell I used to work in the dermatological skincare business?! ;)
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