As the days grow shorter, you might feel tempted to spend more time inside. However, fall is the perfect season to take your yoga practice outside. Every new stimulus has an impact on your overall health and psyche. Humans are a part of nature and heal through it. It’s a perfect venue for other practices that nourish your body and mind, like yoga.
What more do you need to convince yourself to bundle up and stretch amid the falling leaves? Here are nine benefits of outdoor yoga in the fall.
Outdoor Yoga In The Fall
A True One-Two Punch of Goodness
The greatest benefit of outdoor yoga in the fall is to amplify the perks you already enjoy. Many of the improvements people see from spending time in nature parallel those received from regular practice. Combining the two provides double the goodness.
For example, a recent meta-analysis of 39 studies on the effects of the outdoors on well-being found that 98% of participants experienced improvements in mental health and 92% improved both physical and emotional well-being. Nearly everyone, regardless of their existing conditions, got a boost.
Similarly, a recent study involving over 200 participants investigated the effects of practicing yoga during periods of intense psychological stress. Their findings suggest that yogis experience the same psychological distress as all humans but suffer fewer impacts on their mental health or sense of spiritual fulfillment or connection with others when tragedy strikes.
Quick Tips for Practicing Yoga Outdoors
Of course, practicing yoga outdoors comes with realities you must accept, like insects and prickly plants. However, a little mindful prep work makes changing your venue a delight. Take the following steps:
- Seek a combination of sun and shade: While full sun can feel heavenly, especially on achy joints, ensure there’s a cooler spot where you can retreat — if only to get the glare out of your eyes.
- Inspect the surface: Watch out for anthills, sharp rocks or plants that may look innocuous. That field of grass may offer heavenly cushioning for your mat or conceal a minefield of goat heads.
- Come prepared: Sunscreen, bug spray and extra mats or padding to protect you from the cold ground make your experience more enjoyable.
9 Benefits of Taking Your Practice Outside in the Fall
Now that you know how and why you should take your practice outside, what benefits can you reap? Check out these fabulous perks and grab your mat.
1. Clear the Initial Movement Hurdle
What’s the toughest part of any workout? It’s getting started — and many people don’t get that far. More than 60% of Americans over 18 don’t get enough movement, and the lack results in negative health outcomes.
Going outside clears the first hurdle. You have to get up and move to get out the door, and that little bit of positive energy often builds into an energetic yet relaxing flow.
2. Soak Up the Sun
When cooler temperatures arrive, so does cold and flu season. A huge benefit of outdoor yoga in the fall is that it boosts your immunity in preparation. Spending time outdoors spurs your body to produce natural vitamin D. This substance is actually a hormone that plays a crucial role in your body’s immune response.
3. Improve Your Resilience
What is resilience? It’s the process of successfully adapting to and coping with difficult life experiences. Yoga improves this quality each time you hold a challenging pose, gently stretching yourself past your limits, leading to growth.
One benefit of taking your yoga practice outdoors is that it exposes you to more unpredictability than you find in the studio. You might hold tree pose against strong winds and relax in savasana despite the playful laughter of nearby children. How good are your powers of concentration? What can you endure, within reason? Test your limits.
4. Reduce Your Infectious Disease Risk
You already know that going outside helps you produce vitamin D and improves resilience. However, it boosts immunity in yet another critical way.
Going outdoors exposes you to oodles of plants and trees, which emit substances called phytoncides for defense. When you inhale them, it prompts your body to produce a higher number of critical immune cells that fight bacteria and viruses. Spending more time indoors in cooler temperatures exposes you to more germs. Improve your ability to defeat them.
5. Improve Critical Health Biomarkers
Your body is a glorious, complex system in which each part affects every other. However, doctors can get a good idea of your overall well-being by examining critical biomarkers, such as those that measure your inflammation levels.
Inflammation occurs with nearly every disease and disorder. Studies show the beneficial effects of yoga on C-reactive protein, interleukin-1, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor and interferon-gamma. These tests measure the degree of impairment from chronic diseases and your risk of heart disease and cancer.
6. Decrease Stress and Anxiety and Encourage Mental Health
Both yoga and spending time outdoors have impressive benefits for your mental health. Consider how profound the effects may be.
One’s mental health affects everyone else in their life, potentially increasing stress and negative health outcomes in everyone they regularly interact with. Fortunately, contagion works both ways — when you improve your mental health, it positively impacts those around you, lifting them up, too.
7. Feel a Deeper Connection to Nature and Other Living Things
Loneliness is a modern epidemic, and many people suffer today because they feel disconnected from the people around them and life in general. Going outside reminds you of the connection humans share with all other living things. On a more pragmatic level, it also increases the chances that you’ll meet someone else who shares your healthy interests.
Do you want to increase your sense of connection even more? Try skipping the mat and practicing with your bare feet on the earth if it isn’t too cold. Grounding has science to support it, putting you in direct contact with the planet’s electromagnetic field, which benefits mental and physical health.
8. Facilitate Mindfulness
Mindfulness encompasses many things, such as your ability to remain centered in the present moment despite diverse stimuli swirling around to distract you. You encounter far more of these interruptions outside, challenging you to train your mind to return to your inhales and exhales again and again.
9. Encourage Others Through Your Example
Yoga guides often muse about how much better the world could be if everyone engaged in regular practice. You can be an ambassador to that brighter future, and all you have to do is take your mat outside.
Few people realize the impact they have on other people. The folks you inspire might not ever mention it, but your example shines a light for them to follow. It’s even better when they approach you and join in practice with you — hello, instant friend. Who knows? You might even attract a crowd!
Take Your Yoga Practice Outside This Fall
Winter will shut you indoors soon enough. In the meantime, soak up the rest of the year’s sun by taking your yoga practice outside this fall.
Practicing yoga outdoors has oodles of benefits, from boosting your immunity to improving your mood. You might even become the change you want to see in your community — spread the goodness while improving your health.