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Outdoor Yoga- Asana for all senses

Updated: Jan 11



Yoga is not just physical exercise. It's an emotional integration, spiritual elevation, and an opportunity for us to go deeper into our own human experience, growth, and healing. Couple yoga with the healing benefits of nature, and we have powerful experience for self exploration, healing and transformation!


…but first what are yoga asanas?

A woman stands with her back to the camera with arms overhead in a twisted hand interlock position. The suns beams shine through hands and body. The background is rolling hills with a fall tree on the right border SEELEDU Yoga Seelbach 77960
SEELEDU Outdoor Yoga

Asana refers to particular yoga postures- but it is very important to remember that yoga asana is not a mere workout or exercise! As described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra -“sthira sukham asanam”–it means Yoga asana is a balance of effort and ease (Satchidananda, 2016). Well what exactly does that mean? In the physical body, we give effort to get into the posture and then we relax. In the psychological aspect, we use the asanas and our body to go deeper into our awareness. It is being able to find the balance of effort and ease within our thoughts and emotions. Yoga asana therefore brings balance in every aspect of our life. It teaches us to put effort and then let go, to be detached from the result.


Our physical movements and end shape in asana, as long as safe for your body, really aren’t that important. An advanced practice warrior 1, or Virabhadrasana, could be rather short stance with minimal bend to the front knee or settling into a very deep lunge where we our able to fold our arms behind our back in a prayer pose. It is not the depth of the pose that brings an advanced practice or which necessarily brings us deeper into our yoga- is it the connection of our breath and our awareness.


An outline of a woman lunges in front of a river and sunset with her arms overhead and hands pressing together, warrior pose, Virabhadrasana. She is backlit by a rolling range of purples and blues from the sunset SEELEDU Yoga Seelbach 77960
SEELEDU Outdoor Yoga Warrior Pose, Virabhadrasana, at Sunset


Practicing yoga poses mindfully means moving your mind away from your internal monologue and focusing on what you’re sensing in the yoga pose, or asana. Sensory awareness is the direct focus on some specific sensory aspect of the body of outer or inner environment. Sensory awareness is not merely responding to the characteristics of the environment. To be engaging in sensory awareness, you must be paying particular attention to some sensory aspect (Hulbert, 2011). Our five main senses are sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. Nina Zolotow, author and yoga therapist with specialties in yoga for emotional balance, highlights that in asana practice yogis typically don’t use smell or taste (2022).


"When we take the practice outside, it’s easier for individuals to tap into all of the senses.The woods have a distinct smell, just as the heat of a summer afternoon with crisp grass tickling your feet has a particular feeling. These subtle natural sense awakeners are powerful opportunities to go deeper into our mindfulness practice, psychological well being and inner healing. You couple this with the amazing benefits and healing capacity of nature, it’s the single best place to practice yoga.” - J. Ferland
A man in shorts and a tshirt sits in meditation in front of a blooming spring apple tree. Behind him in the background are rolling hills and a sunbeam cutting diagonally from right to left SEELEDU Yoga Seelbach 77960
SEELEDU Yoga


Psychologist, yoga teacher and founder of SEELEDU, Justine Ferland states, “When we take the practice outside, it’s easier for individuals to tap into all of the senses. The woods have a distinct smell, just as the heat of a summer afternoon with crisp grass tickling your feet has a particular feeling. These subtle natural sense awakeners are powerful opportunities to go deeper into our mindfulness practice, psychological well being and inner healing. You couple this with the amazing benefits and healing capacity of nature, it’s the single best place to practice yoga.”


Outdoor Yoga- the benefits of nature

Spending time in nature is one of the most natural mood lifters and best ways to promote our health (Qi, 2010). The health and healing benefits of time in nature are well documented through current research, so much to the point that even policy makers are starting to receive the message. The European commission’s official policy states: “time spent in a natural environment promotes mental and physical health, and reduces the disease burden by providing psychological relaxation and stress alleviation, enhancing immune function, stimulating social cohesion, supporting physical activity, and reducing exposure to air pollutants, noise and excessive heat (2022).”


Those suffering stress, noise and poor air quality can find an escape in forests and natural environments. It is proven that woodlands reduces stress and blood pressure (Ewert & Chang, 2018). Ferland states, “the Schwarzwald, Black Forest, offers an excellent opportunity for a change in lifestyle, going deeper into yourself and your healing journey.”



A fall forest scene. Wispy trees bare from leaves are cloaked in a light fog. Illuiminated by blue skies and anchored in the lower right corner by evergreen trees and bottom third in warm fall colors of fallen leaves. SEELEDU Explorers Forest Bathing Seelbach 77960
SEELEDU Explorers Forest Bathing View

In nature, you get reminded of your place on earth and can feel connected to the natural world. Ecopsychology is built on a foundational belief that disconnections from our natural world- and the environmental situations we currently find ourselves in, including the consequences of, and solutions to, are deeply rooted in human behavior and beliefs. Lacking a relationship with nature can look like: diminished use of senses, disconnections from food sources, disconnections from product chain and how we obtain goods/products, deforestation practices, lack of awareness, ie:fires during droughts in national parks, pollution, biodiversity loss, land degradation, ocean pollution and more. Ecopsychology understands that the needs of the planet are the needs of the person, and the rights of the person are the rights of the planet (Roszak, 1992). Ferland continues, “bringing our practice outside, is a powerful opportunity to realign, reestablish and deepen our connection with nature.”

“Bringing our practice outside, is a powerful opportunity to realign, reestablish and deepen our connection with nature.” - J. Ferland
A woman sits in meditation in front of a stack of woods. The background shows a rolling hill and forest. SEELEDU Yoga Seelbach 77960
SEELEDU Yoga

Outdoor Yoga- Asana for all senses

Do you want to go deeper into yourself, your practice, and awaken all of your senses while deepening your connection with nature?


Download our favorite freebie: SEELEDU 7 days to a more soulful you -with outdoor yoga practices, wellness, mindfulness and activities for kids, to awaken all of your senses and build a stronger connection to self, community, spirit, and nature.


Level up your practice, build community, and tap into deep inner healing at our weekly community Outdoor Yoga Series located in the Schwarzwald, Black Forest of Germany


Or join our online community in the SEELEDU Soul Studio

What can SEELEDU do for you?


SEELEDU explores the journey of being human and nurtures nature connections for health and well-being. SEELEDU is based in science and grounded in nature. Practicing in ecopsychology and recognizing the mutual compassion and nurturing ability between nature and humans, SEELEDU offers live and online programming, development and learning for holistic, whole-body well-being.



References

European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, (2022). The vital role of nature-based solutions in a nature positive economy, Publications Office of the European Union. https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2777/307761



Li Q. Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environ Health Prev Med. 2010 Jan;15(1):9-17. doi: 10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3. PMID: 19568839; PMCID: PMC2793341.


Roszak T. The Voice of the Earth. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster (1992).

Satchidananda, S.S. (2016). The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Zolotow, N. Coming to Your Senses in Yoga Poses. Shambala Publications: https://www.shambhala.com/coming-senses-yoga-poses/

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1 Comment


'Focus and effort' balanced. Nice.

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