Yogic Path

The Incredible Scientific Health Benefits of Practicing Yoga in Nature

Updated on 16 August 2020 • 3 minute read
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Get lost in nature and you will find yourself” 

– unknown

Most of us modern yogis and productive members of society live in a constant non-stop, busy, and task-focused world where we spend most of our time indoors surrounded by smartphones, computer screens, electronic gadgets, and artificial light. 

We’ve created many wonderful and useful things, projects, and businesses but it has come at a cost. 

We’re now more disconnected than ever from Mother Nature. 

Ancient yogis and many other wise groups and cultures like the Native American tribes of North America have always known that when human beings become disconnected from nature we suffer. 

 

We may have more resources, information, and supplies at our fingertips than ever before, but it’s also true that we are increasingly sick, fatigued, depressed, anxious, and unfulfilled. 

Is this mental and physical health crisis a coincidence? 

Thanks to growing research and scientific studies it’s becoming increasingly clear that it is no coincidence at all. 

This health crisis is an opportunity for us to return back to our roots – to return back to Nature in order to reset and heal. 

Practicing yoga outside in nature is the perfect antidote to feeling sick, unwell, tired, anxious, depressed, or frustrated because it helps to restore harmony in the body. 

 

Yoga in nature helps us experience union with our environment

The overall objective of true yoga practice is to experience unity and connection in ourselves and our bodies first and foremost and then with the external world around us. 

Embodying yoga in nature helps us to re-establish this union and connection with our environment. 

Practicing outside in nature, especially surrounded by trees or in a forest, can help you become more still, calmer, more present, and more aware. 

It heightens your senses and self-awareness. 

It helps you feel more connected to your body, your senses, and your breath. 

 

As above, so below

Yogis believe in the phrase: “As above so below.” 

This describes our relationship and connection with the heavens, universe, cosmos, etc. and also our connection to Mother Earth. 

The forces above elevate us and our consciousness, and the forces below keep us grounded and balanced. 

 

As Above: Increased Prana & Vitamin D

Yoga in nature connects us to the sky, the air element, and to the sun’s life-giving energy. 

Sun energy is a major component of yoga practice because it’s regarded as a major source of prana (vital energy). 

Prana is the invisible life force that flows through our body’s channels (nadis) and energy centers (chakras). 

When prana flows freely and without blockage, we experience optimal physical, mental, and emotional health and wellness. 

Blockages and low flow currents of prana create dis-ease and dis-comfort in our body, mind, and moods. 

 

Yogis created an entire sequence of postures to honor and acknowledge the sun called Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar). 

Practicing a few rounds of Sun Salutations in nature builds heat in the body (Tapas), and helps to create healthy energy flow and a fresh infusion of prana (vital energy).

 

Luckily science has caught up to ancient yogic wisdom. 

Multiple studies have shown that Vitamin D, the only vitamin our skin produces in response to the sun’s rays, is crucial to our physical and mental health and well-being. 

About half of the global population experiences low Vitamin D levels. (1)

Low Vitamin D levels are linked to: 

  • Compromised immune function
  • Autoimmune issues
  • Increased inflammation 
  • Heart disease
  • Bone loss
  • Muscle pains
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Slow wound healing
  • Diabetes
  • Poor sleep

 

Having a regular yoga practice in nature can help your body produce more Vitamin D, although you may still need additional supplementation. 

Optimal Vitamin D levels help the body become stronger and more resilient: 

  • Increased fertility
  • Lower depression
  • Lower insomnia
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Stronger immunity
  • Better brain health
  • Less inflammation
  • Stronger bones and muscles
  • Faster wound healing time
  • Balanced blood sugar 
  • Stronger heart function 

 

As Below: More Grounding (Earthing) & Prana

Practicing yoga in nature, especially on bare feet helps the body to connect with the Earth’s healing frequency. 

Since we spend so much time indoors we don’t take advantage of this simple yet powerful opportunity to strengthen our bodies and minds. 

Research says that the act of placing your bare feet on the ground helps you to absorb the Earth’s electrons and balancing electromagnetic energy. 

You become like a sponge soaking it all up, and this translates to the following benefits: (2)(3)

  • Improved immune function
  • Less inflammation
  • Improved sleep
  • Less anxiety
  • More inner calm
  • More mental clarity
  • Increased creativity
  • Lowered risk of cancer
  • Higher white blood cell count
  • Less muscle soreness and stiffness

 

Science says this is what forest bathing & yoga can do to your body: 

In 1982 Japan launched a national health program centered around forest bathing or what they called ‘Shinrin-Yoku” (taking in the forest atmosphere). 

Since then, they’ve been researching the mental and physical health benefits of soaking in nature and forest energy in particular. 

Studies have shown that spending time amongst trees and greenery is not only great for our mental health, it also causes a major boost in our immune system.

Forest bathing can increase the count of natural killer cells (NK) in the body. (4)

These cells are essential for immunity and help prevent infections from progressing. 

Breathing in forest air and mindfully visiting amongst the trees has also shown to lower stress hormones such as cortisol. (5) 

Since yoga practice merges mindfulness with movement and breathwork, it is the perfect adjunct to forest bathing. 

A regular practice in nature can really serve as preventative medicine. 

 

 

 

 

References: 

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25848315

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/

(5)  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568835

 

 

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Local National Parks

Spa is the perfect base camp for exploring America’s Grand Circle of scenic wonders and National Parks. Three of Americas most spectacular parks are within driving distance of St. George: Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Bryce National Park.

 

Zion National Park

Utah’s first National Park. Massive canyon walls ascend toward a brilliant blue sky. To experience Zion, you need to walk among the towering cliffs, or challenge your courage in a small narrow canyon. These unique sandstone cliffs range in color from cream, to pink, to red. They could be described as sand castles crowning desert canyons. Zion’s unique geographic location and variety of life zones combine to create a variety of habitats for a surprising array of plant and animal species. Located on the Colorado Plateau, but bordering the Great Basin and Mojave Desert Provinces, Zion is home to plants from each region. The park is characterized by high plateaus, a maze of narrow, deep sandstone canyons and striking rock towers and mesas. (35 minute drive from Spa).

 

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is considered one of the natural wonders of the world largely because of its natural features. The exposed geologic strata – layer upon layer from the basement Vishnu schist to the capping Kaibab limestone – rise over a mile above the river, representing one of the most complete records of geological history that can be seen anywhere in the world. Geologic formations such as gneiss and schist found at the bottom of the Canyon date back 1,800 million years. This geologic incline creates a diversity of biotic communities, and five of the seven life zones are present in the park. (2 hour 45 mintue drive from Spa).

 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a scientist’s laboratory and a child’s playground. Because Bryce transcends 2000 feet (650 m) of elevation, the park exists in three distinct climatic zones: spruce/fir forest, Ponderosa Pine forest, and Pinyon Pine/juniper forest. This diversity of habitat provides for high biodiversity. Here at Bryce, you can enjoy over 100 species of birds, dozens of mammals, and more than a thousand plant species. It is the uniqueness of the rocks that caused Bryce Canyon to be designated as a national park–these famous spires, called “hoodoos,” (1 hour 45 mintues from Spa).

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Local Recreation

Mild winter temperatures and hundreds of square miles of scenic wilderness have made southern Utah a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. With a variety of sports and activiies, besides those offered by Spa, there is something to satisfy every age and passion.

 

GOLF

In proportion to its population, the St. George area offers more golf than any other place in Utah. This sun-drenched oasis offers 13 challenging courses with inspiring vistas, warm year-round temperatures and some of the finest course designs in the Sunbelt. Spa can help you with tee times and course recommendations.

 

FISHING

There are numerous lakes and streams in Washington County. From low desert to high mountains you’ll find bass, trout and other fishing is excellent. Water sources from Zion National Park and the 10,000 foot high Pine Valley Mountain bring streams filled with trout to reservoirs such as Gunlock, Baker, Quail Creek, Sand Hollow, Kolob and others. Bring your boat, float tubes, or fish from the shore and you’ll find plenty of good angling throughout the county.

 

HORSEBACK RIDING

Hundreds of miles of trails through scenic redrock mountains and valleys make horseback riding in southern Utah a one of a kind experience.

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NATIONAL PARK TOURING

We take you on a daily tour of the National and State parks that are legendary sites of mystical beauty.

Grand Canyon N.P.

Bryce Canyon N.P.

Zion N.P.

The Zion National Park Tour is included in the Ultimate Spa Program. Fee applies with other programs.

  • Fee applies. Ask reservationist for details.
  • Hikes to the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion National Parks and State parks on specified days.
  • Lunch is provided for each person.
  • Extra fee applies on packages that do not include the national park.
  • Schedule is subject to National Park seasonal schedules.

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