I am loving the warmer weather and doing more things outside. I feel more keenly aware of how therapeutic it can be just to be outside. This includes bringing my yoga practice outside! I have been doing yoga outside on my deck with my yoga mat each spring for years. This year, I’ve been also doing more yoga sans mat and shoes out in the grass. The benefits of connecting your bare feet to the ground are numerous. Being barefoot outside is balancing. It can be calming or energizing, depending on what you need. Connecting to the earth provides you with electrons. When you touch the ground, your body absorbs the free electrons and all the benefits they provide. This is why that feeling of balance that we seek is called feeling “grounded”. Being grounded balances our electron energy, replenishing what we need. There have been studies that have shown that electrically conductive contact of your body with the earth produces interesting effects on our physiology and health. It can potentially reduce inflammation, increase immunity, and even speed wound healing. Grounding appears to improve sleep and shift your nervous system into rest mode. In addition to the benefits from connecting to the electric field of the earth, being barefoot benefits your mobility. Being able to have your foot and toes move to the full extent of their range of mobility increases balance and posture. It can help you move more efficiently and reduce pain throughout your body. All of these benefits have lead me to doing more outdoor barefoot yoga! Yoga outdoors can also be a fun way to engage the whole family. Here are a few poses to get you started with Grounding Outdoor Yoga, with ideas for making it fun for the kids as well:
This is a standing pose that strengthens all parts of the leg, opens the hips, and aligns the spine. Stand on one leg and twist open your right leg so you are making a kickstand with your foot. Stay here or clasp your ankle and slowly bring your right foot up to your inner thigh – or anywhere above or below the knee joint. Press your right foot into your thigh as your thigh presses back against your foot. Reach your arms up to the sky as if you are growing branches. Switch and practice Tree Pose on the other side. Making it fun for the kids: What type of tree are you? Make your branches into different types of tress. Sway your branches in the wind!
Warrior 3 Pose:
This is a standing balance pose that strengthens and lengthens the back while stabilizing the ankles and knees. Stand tall and slowly lean your upper body forward with your arms straight in front. Lift one leg high enough to become parallel to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side. Making it fun for the kids: Make airplane sounds and imagine what you see as you are flying. You can then do poses to match whatever you saw on your airplane adventure.
This is a squatting pose that strengthens the ankles, stretches the knees and hips, and lengthens the spine. Squat down, bending your knees with your hands in between your feet. Clap your hands together while pressing your knees apart. Making it fun for the kids: Make sounds like a frog, catch flies with your tongue or jump up and down on your lily pad.
Downward facing dog:
Come onto your hands and knees. Spread your palms and tuck your toes under. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and lift your sitting bones high and back. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them.
Making it fun for the kids: Have your downward dog be a tunnel through which other family members can crawl.
Inhale and lift your arms to the sides and up, over your head.
Exhale and release your arms out to the side like a swan dive as you hinge at the hips and fold your torso over your legs.
Making it fun for the kids: Pretend you are a waterfall. Swing your arms side to side above your feet like water rushing over rocks. Take a peek behind you and notice what you see from this upside down perspective!
Stand with your feet hip width apart with all four corners of the feet firmly anchored on the ground. Let the shoulders fall away from the ears, hands active, with a steady gaze on a soft focal point in front of you. Active the leg muscles and connect with your breath and strength. Making it fun for the kids: Pretend your roots are growing deep into the ground. Then imagine you are a tall and strong mountain. Nothing can move you from this place. Even if someone came and pushed you, they could not knock you over.
Wrapping it up
To wrap up your grounding outdoor yoga practice, end with some big breath breathing. Breathe evenly into your entire body (as opposed to breathing shallowly into the throat and neck). Place your hands together in front of your heart, fingers gently touching. As you inhale slowly, open the fingertips like you are holding a sphere out in front of you. On the slow exhale, bring your hands back to the starting position. Repeat at least 3 times. This allow you to really connect your mind with your body. It's good for the immune system and the nervous system. It's also a great calming pose for after temper tantrums and before bed.
Then, notice how you feel. Are you feeling grounded?