Eight Reasons to Take Your Practice Out of the Studio
Here in Singapore, we’re blessed with the kind of weather that allows us to practice yoga outside almost all year round. But practicing outdoors is not always easy. Most people are used to practicing indoors, in a quiet room, enclosed by walls that physically create the feeling of personal space. Outside, the environment can often be distracting, but the joys of an outdoor practice far outweigh the cons. Here are eight reasons to practice outside in Singapore and elsewhere, as well as some tips on how to make the most out of your outdoor yoga practice.
1. Let’s take advantage of our good air quality and beautiful landscaped architecture
Most yoga studios are indoors, so most likely, much of your yoga experiences have taken place inside. This makes sense considering most people live in cities that are not conducive to an outdoor practice either because the weather is not favourable or the environment, such as traffic and pollution, do not support a healthy practice. In Singapore on the other hand, we are blessed with good air quality most of the time and incredible landscaped architecture. Our buildings and our gardens were meant to be appreciated from the outside. Our city is designed with a lot of outdoor usable space in mind, so why should we always confine ourselves to being inside?
2. Practicing outdoors can help you connect more deeply to your yoga postures
Ancient yogis observed the natural environment in which they existed and understood how living things drew the energy of Mother Nature to survive and thrive. In modern day yoga asana practice, postures are often named after the natural elements that they represent. While practicing outdoors, draw inspiration in tree pose from the tree in front of you. Connect to the feeling of expansiveness through the endless sky. Perhaps even experience gratitude for life as you salute the sun while it sets behind our beautiful city, giving way to the awe-inspiring capabilities of mankind.
3. Yoga is about non-duality. Feel oneness with the universe as you practice outside
In non-duality we remove the separation between the universe in which we exist and ourselves as individuals. This is a difficult concept to experience as modern society puts a high value on individuality, placing importance on the “Me,” “I” and “My.” Within the walls of a yoga studio, the focus is often on “my practice,” “my progress,” and “my space.” While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this, the experience of an outdoor practice can be eye opening. Outside we have less control over our environment and as such, the practice no longer becomes about “me.” It’s easier to realise our tiny significance and insignificance in the larger scheme of the universe as rivers flow, birds fly and insects buzz around, each with their own role to play, without concern or care that we’re out there in the middle of our yoga practice.
4. Peace comes from within
There’s a misconception that an enclosed room will protect you from noise. Perhaps if the building were soundproof this would be true. The reality is however, that most are not. Even within the confines of walls, you can hear the rumbling of motorcycles outside, the sound of construction equipment from the house next door or the clatter from the neighbor’s kitchen. Walls often create the illusion of quiet, but true peace comes from within. Practicing outdoors encourages us to quickly look inside ourselves as we cannot always rely on our environment to create the feeling of calm.
5. We naturally feel happier outside, in the sun
It’s common knowledge that catching some sun each day helps to boost serotonin levels and makes us happier people. Maybe it’s a combination of the view, the sun and the yoga, but yogis who coming off a practice at one of our outdoor locations look like they’ve had a dose of the happy pill. If that isn’t a reason to practice outside, I don’t know what is.
6. Learning to deal with unexpected situations is a step towards living life happily
It’s true that it’s a lot harder to control the environment when practicing outdoors. From unpredictable weather, to people chatting, to interruptions from insects, there are a lot of factors beyond our control. But isn’t it also true that unpredictability is a fact of life? Learning how to navigate unforeseen situations without letting them affect us is key to living a happy life. Next time something happens that’s not within your control, observe how you react to it. Through an outdoor practice, you can hone the ability to let the little things slide with indifference. Does it really matter if someone accidentally walks into your personal space? Ask yourself – was it really “your” space to being with?
7. Experience freedom by practicing outdoors
Ah freedom! It’s something we strive for, yet most of us don’t really know what it feels like. Practicing yoga outdoors can help us experience freedom in a way that cannot be easily replicated indoors. The expanse of the sky above can give us a sense of freedom as it takes us away from the enclosed environments that we are usually confined within (house, office, car etc.). Outside, space is limitless. We connect to this limitless space as we extend upwards from our heels to the crown of our heads and from fingertip to fingertip as we spread our arms like wings into the vastness of the outdoors.
8. If you can practice outside, you can practice anywhere, anytime.
If you build the ability to practice outdoors, you can pretty much guarantee that you can take your yoga practice anywhere. All you have to do is find a flat surface, close your eyes, look within, and the perfect yoga space can be created.
About the Author
Julie Moksim is co-founder of Urban Yogis. She is Singaporean by birth but a global citizen by lifestyle. Julie began her yoga journey in Boston in 2003. Today she runs Urban Yogis and a Yoga Cooperative in Laos called Luang Prabang Yoga.