After spending lots of time indoors it feels so great to stretch the legs and test our balance. You can practice yoga literally anytime and anywhere, without a mat and props, even wearing trainers. As long as we can breathe we can practice yoga!
Practising yoga outside gives us a really great boost. All the fresh air, greenery, the sounds of nature and songs of the birds – so soothing and nourishing for our nervous system! Instantly we feel recharged and revitalised and this feeling is likely to stay with us for a while!
Why don’t you try it these yoga stretches next time you find yourself walking in a forest, park, fields nearby or in your garden! And of course at home too. All our postures are done standing, focusing on balance, strength and positive attitude. Let me take you through it:
To start with take couple of deep mindful breaths. Fill your lungs and your whole body with prana (life force, energy). As you exhale imagine that you are cleansing your whole system and releasing whatever does not serve you anymore.
Start to test your balance by simply transferring your weight from side to side and rocking gently forward and back. Feeling the ground underneath your feet, connecting with the Earth and exploring how balanced or unbalanced you feel.
Our first posture is Standing Knee to Chest pose. Transfer your weight to the right side of your body and slowly start to lift your left knee. Here you can either reach for your knee and take hold, or you can hold the back of your thigh. I chose to hold my knee and give it a squeeze. Notice how this simple balance feels for you – is it easy or perhaps slightly challenging? Remember that each day is slightly different. One day we might feel stable and next day wobbly. It depends on what is happening in our body, in our life, whatever might be on our mind, how we feel emotionally and so on. Just be as you are.
See if you can hold your knee or thigh for up for 4-8 breaths. Switch the sides whenever you need to. Please note – balancing outside is trickier than on a smooth surface of a yoga studio. Whilst in the posture say to yourself: ‘I am balanced’.
From here we enter one of the most iconic yoga poses – Tree Pose. To start we again transfer our weight to the right, feel the right foot grounding and connecting with the earth. Imagine that you are sending roots all the way down into the ground. Then lift your left heel off the ground. Here you have couple of options. You can either:
– Leave your toes on the ground and rest your left heel above your right ankle
– Bring the sole of your left foot to your right calf (avoid knee!)
– Bring the sole of your left foot to your right inner thigh
– Bring your left foot on the top of your right thigh (half lotus)
You can have a little play here and try all four options – see which ones come easily and which ones make you unsteady. Each side might feel slightly different. Chose one position that feels best for you and stay for several breaths. Focus your gaze on a still point ahead of you and say to yourself: ‘I am grounded’.
You can try a transition from the Tree Pose straight into the Dancer Pose – or not! If your legs need a little break give them a little shake! And when ready prepare for one more balance. We will start on the right side again.
Beautiful and graceful Natarajasana – Dancer pose.
I like to start with my right hand on my heart/chest. Slowly start to lift the left foot and reach for it with your left hand. You can either take hold of the outside or inside edge of your foot (why not try both variations). Hold your left foot in your hand and then slowly start to push your foot into your hand whilst tilting your upper body forward and reaching forward with your right hand. Don’t forget to smile and appreciate your strength and amazing ability of your body to balance. The Dancer pose is very uplifting – let it lift you! If you feel slightly off balance you can always use a wall or anything stable you can see around you or even a friend – use your right hand to hold on! As you feel your heart expanding say to yourself: ‘I am loved’.
Step your feet wide distance apart, right toes pointing to the right and left toes forward. Check that your right heal aligns with your left instep and that your hips are level. Lift your arm to the sides (shoulder level) and bend your right knee so the knee is directly above your ankle (Warrior 2). Then place your left hand on the back of your left thigh and reach up to the sky with your right arm, gazing up and creating a lovely back bend. You just entered Reversed Warrior! Feel your heart opening and say to yourself ‘I am peaceful’. This posture is also referred to as a peaceful warrior. Enjoy this beautiful pose and all the beauty around you.
After you practiced on both sides slowly fold forward into your Standing Forward Fold – soften your knees, relax your spine, shoulders, arms and jaw. When ready very slowly come up into standing again (Mountain pose).
Now shake your legs and arms and give yourself a big smile! Enjoy your day!
Little tips for your balances:
Fix your gaze – focus on a still point ahead of you (Drishti)
Connect with the ground – the standing leg is rooting into the ground
Slow down your breathing – make your breath steady, even and regular
Clear your mind – if your mind is full and busy you will find it difficult to balance, so try not to respond to your thoughts.
Benefits of this practice:
Finding balance and strength, connecting with nature and yourself, energising your whole system and releasing stale energy. Uplifting and bringing positivity to your day.