3 Things Yoga and the Outdoors Have in Common
A note from Paige Willis of Undone Yoga
We had the pleasure of hosting Paige Willis of Undone at AutoCamp Yosemite. In honor of International Yoga Day on June 21st, we’re celebrating all the benefits that yoga and time in the outdoors share. Here are some mindful notes from Paige, inspired by her time at AutoCamp:
When I checked into AutoCamp Yosemite, I had my best friend, Courtnie, by my side. We took a quick tour of our Airstream, then followed it up with a vibe check, a ritual I made more space for after becoming a yoga teacher. If you’re familiar with yoga, you know that we don’t often step on our mats without an intention. So this ritual is a way I can bring that same mindful energy to every adventure in my life, not just those on the mat.
Courtnie and I journaled about how we were feeling, what we needed, and what we wanted out of the time ahead. The process took 5-10 minutes and left us feeling grounded. It allowed some time for our minds, bodies and spirits to arrive aligned under the same intention. For this trip, my intention was space; hers was fun.
We both needed a release from the stresses of our everyday lives, so calling AutoCamp Yosemite our home base for three days was just the reset we needed. We flowed, hiked, relaxed, sipped wine, BBQ’d, talked by the fire, perused the onsite General Store, and made new friends. And in doing all that, I noticed how much yoga and the outdoors have in common. They both:
Paige Willis of Undone, exploring Yosemite National Park
Urge you to leave distractions at the door. In yoga and the outdoors, the goal is to always connect to whatever’s within the four corners of your mat or right in front of you. Both practices challenge you to tap into the senses that don’t normally get any shine in your daily schedule (i.e. the way the air feels against your skin, the smells around you, the soundtrack of the experience, etc.) and soak up the present.
Calm your nervous system. Both yoga and the outdoors are solid ways to practice activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body relax and decompress. In fact, over time, a regular hike, yoga flow, or nature walk can help you build the mental and physical resilience needed to change the way your body responds to stress in the future.
Nudge you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes stillness is inevitable in yoga and the outdoors. Both have the capacity to teach you how to sit in your surroundings, without letting distractions dilute the current moment. But life’s hustle and bustle makes that stillness a little uncomfortable. As awkward as that negative space might feel, when you sit in it long enough, inspiration often waits on the other side.
Think about the expansiveness of the outdoors and the endless possibilities on a yoga mat. There are so many different ways to engage with both practices. Take advantage of the variety. Try different styles of yoga, take the long route, or even stop and smell the roses.
Life comes at you much slower when you let it. So on your next adventure, whether on the mat or in the mountains, take a moment to be an observer of your thoughts. Bring a bit of yoga’s emphasis on intention to the experience. How are you feeling? What do you need? And what do you want the path forward to feel like? Then, stay tuned into what comes up along the way.