I'm probably biased. But summer in the upper midwest is the best. Known as the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota only gets a few months to enjoy the unthawed tundra. With this in mind, you'll find the state parks, lakes, and trails full of folks looking for the opportunity to enjoy the sun and the fresh air. Not to mention that there are major health benefits to being outside, including resetting your circadian rhythm... Amazing!
As an instructor of the YMCA, I was asked last year to teach outdoors at Lake Phalen through the 'Fitness in the Parks' program. Co-teaching with fellow instructor Caroline, we alternated Saturday mornings (9am) at the beach house. Not to mention I think I'll be teaching outdoors at Battle Creek park as well... TBD!
Why Take Your Practice Outdoors
Here are a few of my favorite reasons to practice outside:
A few years ago I did the Couch 2 5K program, starting in February on a treadmill. Once the weather warmed up, I started taking my workout outdoors, and I literally had to go back a week to build up more endurance. Being outdoors, on uneven terrain and varying surfaces, challenges our bodies. The same with yoga, even if you're on your mat. Learning to balance on a perfectly even studio floor is very different than on grass or a tree root; finding savasana in a dim room is very different than with the sun shining on your face!
Enhanced connection to your neighborhood
Yoga outdoors can seem intimidating - just like any new fitness class, you don't know what the expectations are. Attending a yoga class outside allows you to connect in different ways. From tuning into the sounds of nature around you to making connections with neighbors, it's a way to strengthen the bonds between you and your environment.
Whether you're in a park, your yard, or camping in the boundary waters - to quote 'Hamilton,' look around / look around / how lucky we are to be alive right now. Being in nature allows us to connect in a different way to our surroundings, and we learn not to take them for granted and how to appreciate them through the changing seasons.
It's good for you
In, like, so many ways. Studies show that taking 15-30 minute walks outside at least three times a week is more beneficial than Zoloft for depression. Bring in the healing power of yoga and the positive effects multiply. Practicing yoga outside recalibrates the brain and helps reduce negative emotions while increasing vitality and vigor by releasing endorphins. It can help increase body awareness by paying attention to the things around you, tuning in to our dormant hunter-gatherer instincts.
Watch this space for news on upcoming outdoor yoga classes this summer!