A million years ago when I was in art school I had an art history professor who used to say that we lived in boxes, worked in boxes and moved between these two boxes in boxes. This seems more true today that it did back then. We are able to do almost everything virtually, which was helpful indeed during long hours of quarantine. However, even though we can do everything from the comfort of our living room, doesn’t mean we should. Breaking out of our boxes and spending time outdoors comes with a myriad of health benefits, including decreasing blood pressure, increasing respiratory health, improving immune response, and improving sleep patterns. Some studies have even shown that time outdoors helps the body heal faster after injury or trauma.
Spending time outside stimulates all the senses. Regular doses of fresh air and sunshine helps reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. As a result stress is reduced, blood pressure decreases, and respiratory health improves. Since a restful night sleep depends on regular circadian rhythms, getting a daily dose of natural sunlight can regulate circadian patterns and lead to better sleep. Spending time outdoors can also help your immune system because it helps it to distinguish which micro-organisms are helpful and which ones carry threats to the body.
As little as 2 hours a week of fresh air and sunshine is all you need to boost your health. Movement also enhances health, so if you practice yoga outside, you are able to couple the health benefits of yoga with the health benefits of being in nature……talk about a win-win! Try this variation of a Sun
Salutation sequence for your next outdoor health boost.
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose):
- Feet are parallel and are hip distance apart
- Close your eyes and slow the breath, breathing in and out through the nose
- Begin to notice all the sounds and scents around you.
- Notice the temperature, the breeze, etc.
- Take a few moments soaking in the senses, then open the eyes and notice the sights of nature
- Urdvha Hastasana (Upward Salute)
- Inhale, raise the arms overhead
- Clasp the fingers together and bend over to the right side and then to the left
- Come back to center and bring hands to heart
- Take several breaths here
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
- hinge at the hips, folding forward and down with a flat back
- Hands find the earth or rest on the legs
- Take a few breaths in Uttanasana, examine the ground….what do you see, smell and feel?
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Bring hands to earth, step one foot back, then the other
- Hips reach up towards the sky
- Check out the world upside down. A new perspective is always good!
- Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1) Lunge
- Step the left foot forward between the hands
- Right foot has the heel up, weight is in the ball of the foot
- Settle into the feet as you lift your torso and raise arms up towards the sky
- Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2)
- Pivot on the ball of the right foot, feet are now perpendicular to each other
- Bend the left knee and bring arms to a “T” position
- Look out over your left fingertips
- Think about how the world looks, feels and sounds.
- Feel rooted in the earth….you are part of nature!
- Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Fold)
- Both feet are parallel, fold forward and down with a flat back
- Another great view of the world upside down!
- Lunge, then step forward into Tadasana
- Take a moment, close your eyes and slow your breath
- This time instead of focusing on the outside world, focus on your inner self
- How does the body feel physically, mentally, emotionally?
- Now repeat this sequence on the other side.
So go ahead….Get out of your box! Let the sunshine and fresh air work its magic on your health! For more tips on pain relief and injury prevention through yoga and physical therapy, sign up for my newsletter here, or follow me on social media on FaceBook @yogalorie, Instagram Wellness_with_Lorie, or LinkedIn yogalorie