Ah, yoga. Even the soft syllables of the word hint at the program's gentle, soothing nature. Millions of Americans have adopted the tranquil poses, rejuvenating stretches and peaceful breathing exercises for stress relief. Many of them consider the holistic regimen to be one of the most powerful pain management techniques out there.
If you're in need of relaxation and relief from pain or tension, why not take yoga to the great outdoors? Meditating and posing while bathed in fresh air and the shade of trees can optimize the benefits of the Eastern art.
If you're new to yoga, don't fret – here are five simple ways to begin strengthening your connection to yourself and to nature.
1. Set aside some "me" time. Take an hour away from your computer, your phone and your responsibilities. Forget about duties and tight schedules, and just live in the moment.
2. Put on some comfortable clothes. Light, loose-fitting garments that allow your body to breathe are ideal for the practice of yoga.
3. Pick a quiet spot outdoors. It doesn't matter if it's in the park, near a quiet stream or even on a patch of sand by the ocean. Just make sure it's a setting in which you feel comfortable and relaxed.
4. Breathe. We inhale and exhale every second of the day without thinking about it, but take the time to concentrate on the air passing in and out of your lungs. Take slow, deep, measured breaths.
5. Stretch your muscles. Make each movement slow and steady. Try standing up and gently bending until you touch your toes. Then straighten your back and reach for the sky with your eyes closed, feeling the sunlight and the kiss of the breeze on your face.
With time, patience and courage, you can find inner peace and achieve your fullest potential with the help of yoga.