The meaning of the word yoga, is union. Simply put, yoga offers tools to connect with ourselves and our surroundings to live a balanced, joyful life. On the mat, we practice observing our experience through asanas (postures) and listening to our intuition to take what we learned out into the world with us.

BKS Iyengar puts it like this: “The material body has a practical reality that is accessible. It is here and now, and we can do something with it. However, we must not forget that the innermost part of our being is also trying to help us. It wants to come out to the surface and express itself.”

Yoga, meditation and time spent in nature are ways to tap into your more intuitive self and listen a bit more easily. Root yourself in Satya (truth) to find your true path, true joy and true nature. Rumi says, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

We live in a fast-paced society that encourages more, more, MORE. And with that fast pace, we often get swept off in directions we perhaps weren’t planning on going or maybe didn’t even realize we were headed. One of my favorite guided meditations is the idea of a river that is full of our constantly streaming thoughts. I learned how to step out of the current and sit by the banks to listen, rather than get swept off or pulled down by the current.

When you are surrounded by nature, it’s easier to step back from our fast-paced society and slow down, pay attention and be in awe of the little things. The distractions become part of the experience of listening. The waves, the breeze through the trees, a bee buzzing nearby. There are no four walls to focus on, rather the beautiful and unpredictable asymmetry of nature. We can break patterns and become more of an observer, watching our thoughts as they come and go.

Nature and yoga go hand in hand. It gets us out of the box, out of the studio, out of the office and open to what’s right in front of us. Into the present and into the here and now in the most beautiful and fun way.

I teach yoga on a boat, and in the beginning, there are many distractions like seaplanes, motorboats, yelling rowers and a subtle rock from the water playing with your balance. But eventually, it forces you to slow down. You begin to listen and connect with your surroundings; the rocking waves become a grounding experience, the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair become a glorious reality of where you are and all the other distractions wash over you. In that moment, you can really hear and you become connected with yourself, your practice and everything around you. A connection, a union begins to form.

Similarly, when I lead a yoga hike, you end up pushing yourself much like you do in the asana practice. You start to become mindful of controlling your breath as the trail becomes more difficult, become more aware of how you place your body to be more efficient in the terrain and you set your pace according to what is sustainable for you. You do this by listening to your intuitive self as you observe and connect with your surroundings. And oh boy, is savasana a experience after that. Allow the beauty around you to lull you into awaking that connection within. Let go and listen.

These outdoor yoga experiences can allow you to tap into what we often try to create in the yoga studio a bit easier. Mindfulness, connection and truth. And it puts you in more of a beginner’s mind to let go of the perceptions of how the practice or a pose should be, and eases you into the moment to help you be more open to what’s present. You start to see how you can take yoga anywhere and how it can help connect us to everything. Let nature nurture and find union.

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