Coolness on your skin.
A ripple of wind rolling through your hair.
Bird song from a couple of trees away.
Uneven ground feeling so steady or secure.
Practicing yoga outside for me was a completely different experience to my at-home asana and honestly, I cannot decide whether it was for the better or worse.
I prefer to practice daily, turning up to my parents with a toothbrush and my mat, which can sometimes mean I’m adapting to the space kindly offered to me. Last year I went camping with Alex in Snowdonia, a beautiful part of the Welsh countryside. We spent the week in a rain cloud but laughed more than I had in a year, which is often the way. We climbed mountains and explored villages, drank wine and read to each other; it was heaven. True to form, my yoga mat came with me on the journey. I couldn’t wait to practice in the countryside, the endless woodland behind our campsite teaming with creativity and life.
I woke up early the first day we camped to practise, but to my horror so had many of my campmates. Families were out at their makeshift tables frying bacon and rubbing cricked necks as I guiltily scurried out of my tent, mat in hand. To me, there could be no worse experience than practising in front of all those people. It made me feel vulnerable, like I was showing off or was in need of attention from these people when in fact I just wanted to practise in solitude.
I took my mat behind the tent where the field sloped down a little. Making my peace with an off-centre experience, I began my sun salutations. My ears pricked as kettles whistled and car engines rumbled in the near distance so I tried to combat and closed my eyes to help focus on my breath. No such luck. I was simply too distracted by the feeling of perceived attention-seeking I cut my practice short and ran back in the tent, heart beating with embarrassment.
Not to be deterred, Alex helped me source a more private spot up a hill in another field. This hill gave me the elevation so I could see off into the distant fields and was right next to the woodland. I couldn’t wait to practice the next day.
The next morning came with drizzle that soaked you through to the bone. My curls were fraying into a halo of frizz but I was determined to settle in, to focus and to move without inhibition.
I laid out my mat on the quickly soaking earth and started to move. It was honestly incredible. To feel so connected to the earth under my feet and to breathe in the cool air of the countryside was so dizzying in it’s power I felt almost hypnotized.
But the most powerful was yet to come.
After a swift 30 minute practice I sat to meditate. I closed my eyes and took my usual three deep breaths to help signal my body into relaxation mode. I started to settle, to centre but there was a feeling that kept me distracted. To this day it’s difficult for me to describe; it felt like vibrations of white noise dancing on the right hand side of my face. Like fingertips lightly tapping on my cheeks. It was bizarre.
After 10 minutes of trying I gave up, only to notice what was to my right. The woodland. Full of trees and flowers and birds, a space that was teeming with life it was bursting over into our cultivated field. I smiled then, knowing that I had experienced something so beautiful that I may never experience again.
Practising yoga outside is definitely something I want to try again as I think it challenged me in ways I didn’t expect. It confronted me with my own shyness and projection of insecurity which is something I am now trying to work and grow from. It also showed me how alive our world is, which sounds insane but living in a city can sever those ties we were born with to our natural world, to our first Mother. It has made me want to connect more to the fields, to the rambling wood and to headland.
Here’s to a year of experience, of connection and of love.