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Why Yoga Feels Like Being In Nature

by Sofia Frasca: Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming that it’s summer at the beach and can almost feel the sensation of sand against my skin…

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while standing before the depths of the blue ocean watching its waves slowly crash into the shore. I can feel the warmth of the sun penetrating my skin as I tilt my face upward toward its rays, soaking up what I can. I hear a mix of pelicans and waves rolling in and out, methodically humming together.

And how do I feel in this daydream? Peaceful. Warm. Connected. Grounded. It all feels so natural to me.

Where do you go when you daydream?

Close your eyes, take a deep, full belly breath in the nostrils, soften your lips and exhale all of that air out of your mouth. Take another deep breath through the nose and exhale, lips closed. Soften the muscles of your face and your jaw, let your shoulders fall away from your ears.

Once you feel connected with your breath, let your mind wander into nature.

Maybe you find yourself in a wooded area, or by a creek, maybe in the desert, or out in the mountains. Whether you’re drawn to the forest or the ocean, what does that place feel like? Can you smell the aromas of the foliage and flora? Can you feel the earth below your feet? Does the dirt or the sand make contact with the soles of your feet? Can you hear the whispering wind move through a rigid rock face, palm fronds, or desert sands?

How do you feel in this daydream? I mentioned I feel peaceful, warm, connected, and grounded. These are the feelings I can tap into even when I’m not at the beach.

I grew up in Florida riding boogie boards and taking long walks on the seashore collecting shells. Looking for shells along the seashore was my initial exposure to the natural world, away from paved streets, strip malls, and all the things of a modern, industrialized society.

As a living being, I am part of the natural world. This is why it is easy for me to connect to and relate with nature — and yes, to  feel it.

I recently came across this definition of nature: “The phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.” Maybe not all man-made things are considered to be “nature” but me, a human, I certainly consider myself to be a part of the web of the physical and energetic world. I would say you can include me into the animal category.

I am nature, as are you.

If the following fact wasn’t proven by science, it would sound extremely mystical to say that we’re made up of stars. But it is true. A recent survey of over 150,000 stars showed that humans and their galaxy share 97% of the same kind of atoms.

Astronomers documented the abundance of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur within the stars surveyed. While we share these elements with stars, stars and humans carry different proportions of each element. “For example, humans are about 65 percent oxygen by mass, whereas oxygen makes up less than 1 percent of all elements measured in space (such as in the spectra of stars),” according to the study.

OK, so you and I, we’re made of stars.

There is so much beauty to be found in our connection with nature. Maybe you go for a walk every morning to breathe in the air and feel the dew of morning on your skin. Possibly your afternoon is spent mountainside in the winter with frost on your eyelashes.

And maybe, you step onto your yoga mat, breathe in, breathe out, and invite yourself to connect in. Tapping into this beautiful abundance of nature within your own body and mind connection: the feeling of your breath through movement and the calming of your mind with meditation. A wise teacher of mine, Wanna Johanssen, said, “If you change your shape, you change your state.” In the practice of yoga, so many of the postures or shapes we take are named after elements and creatures we see in nature around us.

Tadasana Mountain Pose

Surya Namaskar Sun Salutation

Vrkasana Tree Pose

Only naming a few poses above, yoga can be a tool in embodying our true nature through postures or asanas. By embracing the qualities that the asanas represent, you allow for a greater integration of those qualities into your life. I’ve found that shapeshifting gives me perspective and restoration that a weekend out camping might — moving slower, with a soft focus on the small things, yet being tapped in and connected to those “big” life things.

Maybe there isn’t a dirt trail or sandy beach at a close distance, but here is always you — your beating heart, and your inhale always followed by an exhale.

Step onto your mat, tap into your breath.

Daydream, move your body, feel.

Source: Yoga Today

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