I have been practicing yoga (the postures or asanas) for more than 30 years. I have sought guidance and inspiration from many teachers through attending classes and developing my personal routine using well illustrated books and guided audio cd’s.
Over the years I developed the greater understanding that yoga is not just about the pose – but more significantly the way of life. The development of self compassion, self-acceptance, and the importance of working within my own limitations during illness has led to a more meaningful life on and off ‘the mat’.
Many hours I have spent in quietude as I also learnt the benefits of meditation – and how the breath can enhance well-being – during yoga and during times of stress or anxiousness, anger or disappointment.
However, today I experienced a profound and deeper understanding of the benefits of the connection with the earth and natural environment through my yoga and meditation practice – this is what happened…
Over the weekend we moved ‘house’. For the past 12 months we have lived in an apartment on the second floor of a block of 11. That unit was concrete and the room I had set aside, with the graciousness of my partner giving me my own ‘quiet space’ was a small, carpeted room, surrounded by my crates of work materials that I carry everywhere as my ‘mobile office’. In this space I had a window that did once look out upon a tree – until the time the maintenance men decided to cut it almost to the ground – such that the outlook from the tiny window was … another set of concrete units. Now, I want to assure you that I am grateful of having a roof over my head as I am aware so many other people do sleep rough.
Moving beyond this last 12 months, we lived in Cairns and the Northern Beaches area, where I was blessed to be able to go to the local beach almost every day to perform my yoga poses and meditate in the open sunshine, backed by rainforest. I felt a strong connection with nature, the earth and ocean – so much that when I sang my mantra, fish would jump out in front of me and even more amazingly dolphins would swim into shore. When I told the local people about this experience, many would say “I have lived here for years and never saw a dolphin” – so as you can imagine it felt quite special. I was also surprised that I could easily do the postures on ‘shifting sands’ – my poses felt quite strong, balanced and with the warmth of the sun on my body – more flexible.
Bringing you back to today – I set up my quiet space in the back of our new home. We have a small courtyard area that is surrounded by many tall mature trees and I placed my mat in the sunshine, directly on the earth.
To my amazement and pleasure, my poses were once again much stronger, my body more flexible and the connection to mind, body and spirit more calm. And, as I was meditating a lady beetle landed in my hair! I was overcome with emotion as I realised that doing my yoga ‘practice’ in a small, enclosed space - suspended somewhere way above the earth and on concrete, has had a negative impact on my wellbeing.
So, I encourage you to take your practice away from the yoga studio – out into the open environment, into your own backyard, a local park, or on the beach.
Experience the connection with the sunshine, earth, trees, animals or the ocean – the reward will be your enhanced wellbeing.
Yours in harmony, Julie