Term 3 has come to an end as we move past the spring equinox and the days begin to get longer giving us more time to practice yoga outside in nature. Over the term we have worked with the theme “Embracing the Elements” so I encourage you to go for a mindful walk in nature and take it all in. Mindful walking is a perfect way to create balance and equanimity. We have never needed nature more than we do now and a recent study suggests a short ‘awe’ walk in nature at least once a week, preferably daily, can combat negative emotions and help maintain a healthy mind. Read more about this study in the journal Emotion.
Getting some physical exercise is vital but you also benefit from ‘innercise’ as you focus on being fully present as you walk. When we are stressed and anxious we often pace, we know that walking and moving helps alleviate stress and it is even better if done outdoors in nature. Walking in nature allows us to absorb negative ions which stimulates fresh energy, or prana, and aliveness. Spending time in nature near green trees and the oxygen rich ocean reduces stress levels. Open spaces fill us with feelings of expansiveness, optimism and hope.
As you walk concentrate on your breathing, the movement of your feet with each step, the muscles involved in walking. At the same time bring in all five senses as you notice what you can see, the colours, the light, the textures and shapes. Notice what you can smell, the eucalyptus leaves, the freshly mown grass, the smell of rain or the saltiness of the ocean. Notice what you can hear, the birds, the wind in the trees, the ebb and flow of the tide of the ocean. Notice if there any tastes in your mouth, from your surroundings or a recent meal or drink. Bring your awareness to touch the bark of a tree, a smooth rock and beautiful feather you find on your walk. You can even take a ‘thank you’ walk and practice gratitude while walking.
You might like to even practice some of the Dru Yoga sequences outdoors with a focus on the elements. Practice the Dru Star Breath that balances all the five elements at the heart space and is so beneficial to do outdoors with an awareness of the beauty and harmony of nature all around you. The Salutation to Four Directions sequence can also be done with a focus on a different element and colour as you face each of the four points on the compass, finishing with one further round of the sequence focusing on the element of space.
Water (sacral chakra)
To feel a sense of flow and creativity
Salutation to the Moon sequence
Fire (solar plexus chakra)
To feel a sense of strength and determination
Inner Fire sequence
Salutation to the Sun sequence
Air (heart chakra)
To feel a sense of openness and compassion
Seat of Compassion sequence
Space (crown chakra)
To feel a sense of stillness and connection
Salutation to Four Directions
Salute to Dhruva
Many of the Dru Yoga sequences incorporate different mudras, or hand gestures, that can enhance your yoga and meditation practice. The Salutation to Dhruva sequence includes the Energisation Mudra with all 5 fingers and thumbs on both hands joined. The Water Sequence includes the Lotus Mudra with the little fingers and thumbs touching as in the picture below. Each of our fingers represents one of the five elements.
Thumb = Fire
Index = Air
Middle = Space
Ring = Earth
Little = Water
Enjoy practicing and being playful with the elements. Remember you are made of all five elements, you are grounded and stable like earth, you are creative and nurturing like water, you are strong and radiant like fire, your are compassionate and joyful like air, you are connected and still like space. Rest in stillness and embrace the elements as you feel a sense of connection with everything that is.
Julia Baird in her new book “Phosphorescence: on awe, wonder & things that sustain you when the world goes dark” writes about how to find, nurture and carry your own inner light to ward off the darkness. Bathing in nature, seeing green leaves, feeling the earth beneath our feet and basking in sunlight can only support us to become happier, healthier and more resilient. Embrace the elements, the more nature, the better you will feel.