Before creating these courses I spent 6 months interviewing fellow long time yoga practitioners about their relationship with Nature during their practices, and I noticed a few interesting things...
The beginning of a conversation started out with “Yeah, I love Yoga, Yeah I love Nature…but I’m not sure….” and then it trails off into some sort of thinking contemplation space…
as if trying to reconcile something…a knowingness
I saw this contemplation many many times in my conversations…these moments of long pausing for introspection…trying. to. figure. this. out.
This contemplation would then be followed by a delightful bursting out of how drawn to Nature they feel when they practice…
and they’d share in a bit quieter voice as if it had been a secret that they’ve been waiting for someone to ask about
delighted to finally find someone else who’ll understand, or at least not think they’re weird:
“Oh I do love to practice on my deck”
“I bring my mat up to practice in the morning Sun, there’s just something about the morning sun”
“Once there was this bird that I swear was speaking to me when I was in my meditation”
“I spent a summer practicing beside this tree in my yard, I really loved it, my practice was just different somehow”
“I was in awe of the sunset this evening during my practice, it made my breathing practice even more inspiring”
This revealing would be followed quickly by a questioning of these moments of practicing with Nature with a revoking of that moment, that it was somehow ‘cheating’ in their practice:
“but I wonder if it’s a distraction”,
“I notice that when I go into my dark room I end up feeling more depressed and think that perhaps that’s a more serious yoga practice”,
And then another pause before bursting with this delightful secret sharing again talking about the amazing thing that happened in their yoga practice on the deck;
how the sun warmed their skin and also shed light on something important and helped bring a shift about in their inner landscape…
or how deeply recharging it is lying in Savasana in the moonlight where this interaction just fills them up with and empties them out at the same time…
…a beautiful dissolving of stress being replenished with connection.
I saw this slight internal tug of war - this dance of being drawn to Nature but doubting it and then not knowing how it’s supposed to fit with our yoga practices - over and over again in my conversations.
Not quite sure how to nurture this Natural part of their practice to bring them into a ‘real’ yoga practice.
Having these feelings of being so much more alive when we practice with Nature but then having these moments of tender sacredness tamped down by doubt because we can’t quite get the mind around it.
So we are left not knowing what to do with these beautiful moments, where they go, and more importantly how to weave them into the tapestry of the practice.
Left wondering if these moments are outside of the Yoga we practice - blips, “accidents”, distractions…
These moments are not flukes, they are not distractions, they do not make Yoga less of a practice because there wasn’t a struggle to experience the union…
Being able to hear, feel, and be with these moments IS the practice.
it is inner nature (re)uniting with Nature
they are the essence of what Yoga is…a direct experience of Union
Nature was so much a part of human existence for so long that it was just a given, implicit in the goings-on of all things humans that it didn’t need to be mentioned directly; it was inescapable.
Today in our very fast and busy world tucked away inside, away from Nature we find ourselves even more removed from that relationship, that connection to something larger than ourselves that so many of us crave, the reason we practice Yoga.
But there are whispers and echos of this relationship left throughout, little mentions re-minding us, helping us re-member… in the names of the postures, Sun Salutations, warnings to not practice in direct sunlight, discreet mentions of practicing on deer skin in the forest, and monks venturing into caves for extended periods of time.
It is not a coincidence that modern Yoga retreats be boasting about proximity to a Natural area or that we see endless photos of Yoga postures in Nature.
Yoga was meant to be practiced in relationship with Nature.