When we were kids, occasionally we rode home from school with some family friends. My brother and I always felt like this would be a great adventure because there were 5 siblings in this clan, and they had two huge dogs and a rambling house. Inevitably, we’d start to get rowdy. All this swirl of activity would lead their mom to tell us to take it outside. Usually, she hollered more than told. But we got the picture, and out we went.
We took to the yard and the trees. We could hear the birds, feel the dirt and grass under our feet, breathe in the fresh air. And when Mom finally arrived, we were smiling, dirty, and relaxed. Think about how you feel after you spend a day working in the yard. Or consider how many of us leave town for vacation and walk to see the sights. What happens when you get out on the beach, or camp by the river? Does the word happy come to mind?
If you Google “health benefits of being outdoors,” you get millions of results. Since that seemed a bit ambiguous, I also changed it to “scientific studies of health benefits of being outdoors.” Still a ridiculous number, which means that I’m sure some of it is hogwash. But still, it’s been studied. Even Harvard has weighed in.
The Nature Principle, by Richard Louv, is a brilliant book that explores just what nature holds for us and how we should find our way back there in order to thrive as a society. I’ll spare you a long essay, but tell you that Louv posits “the future will belong to the nature-smart…those who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real.” Balance…hmmmmmm. Or maybe I should say ommmmmm.
There’s no reason your yoga practice can’t go with you into the great outdoors. You don’t even have to have a mat. You can step right into the grass, feeling the blades tickle your feet. Let the sun warm you. (Wear your sunscreen, of course.) Let the breeze caress you. Let the Earth hold you. Re-establishing that balance that Louv talks about, that we all seek. It can be elusive with these over-scheduled, highly-prioritized lives we lead. But it is necessary.
Do yourself a favor. Go outside. Put your feet on the Earth. Raise your face to the sun. Wear your sunscreen. And honor yourself and the world around you by getting out in it!