Yoga has certainly become more mainstream the past few years and you’ve likely heard the many benefits of regular yoga practice for people of all ages and abilities: stress reduction, improved balance, and increased strength just to name a few of the perks of yoga practice. Often in yoga class we will visualize connecting our postures with the sky and the earth to solidify our connection with the world around us. Have you considered actually taking your yoga outside?
I first began practicing yoga when I was nine years old. I discovered it via a television program one rainy Victoria summer. Yoga has been part of my life ever since, however, it was not until I moved to the Okanagan (where we can truly enjoy all four seasons outdoors) that I began exploring the options of practice anywhere other than in my home or in a studio. Don’t get me wrong, both of these are wonderful, but there is something special about being able to experience yoga in a natural environment.
I began my outdoor yoga practice one sizzling summer night several years ago. It had simply been too hot anywhere to practise indoors and the temperature did not start to drop until the sky was dark. I took my candles to the patio and did a series of moon salutations – I was hooked. Since then I’ve never hesitated to “strike a pose” anywhere at any time of year: under covered patios in autumn, up at Silver Star during winter, in my own backyard oasis in spring, and at the beach and in the parks throughout summer. The ease of connection with my breath, taking in the fresh air that swirled around me brought my awareness to a new level. The ability to ground myself as my feet connected with the earth (with or without a mat) allowed me to set a strong foundation for my standing asanas. Posture was enhanced by the sensation of allowing the crown of my head to truly float up towards the sky whether daytime or nighttime.
Last year I had the privilege of leading a yoga class at a local orchard for their farm crew. This group of young, hard-working yogis knew the benefits they’d reap from stretching and releasing through yoga after a hard day of planting and picking. They also knew that they were in an ideal location to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and weather. I went to them three times a week through July and August and it was an amazing experience; sometimes we practised out on the grass and other times under the lush grapevines that covered the patio. I look forward to more summertime classes outdoors again this year.
Living so close to many gorgeous hiking areas I wanted to share a new option with my community — Take A Hike Yoga — where we can combine the gentle cardio workout of a short hike with the strengthening and releasing moves of yoga. I’m very excited about this new adventure in the Coldstream region! There will be three series to choose from: Tuesdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 19 to May 24; Thursdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., or Thursdays 5 to 6 p.m. April 21 to May 26 It’s $55 for a six-week series to support your health and well-being. Pre-registration is via sign-up sheet at Arise Yoga at the Alpine Centre on Kal Lake Road or contact me directly for information and registration at 250-550-6506 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Greenwood is studio director at Arise Yoga and founder of Breeze Wellness.