For those of us who enjoy the combination of fitness and outdoor activities, how can we stay in shape while simultaneously keeping our internal body systems warm and fully-functional as the winter season approaches?
During wellness weeks for Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island, I teach the last class of the week near the base of Mount Gower mountain – a majestic area with ocean views – at a spot called Little Island. Situated a short walk along a disused road, this is a rewarding trek for anyone. The track passes in and out of the palm forest, and at the end of the path, the vegetation forms a tunnel to walk through-and-under. At Little Island, I have spectacular views, both of the cliff walls above, and the ocean beyond. As I look up at the cliffs and mountain top, the epic scenery reminds me – much like the ‘mountain-top’ pose in yoga – to stand tall and proud, and to hold my ground. The glimmering ocean water views teach me to flow with my practice (and with life itself); and as the birds float in the air-streams – which mirror the ebb and flow of the ‘crow pose’ – I’m reminded of the importance of my freedom to make choices and adjust with every up and down of my individual journey. As a turtle swims by, I see the connection to the ‘turtle pose’, which teaches me to turn inwardly and accept “what is”, without judgment. It’s during these moments when I truly come to appreciate how the combination of yoga and the outdoors assists an individual in reflecting the beauty that exists everywhere, both within and without.
Come back to your senses The simple act of stepping out of the chaotic ‘everyday world’ and into the outside world of nature offers up moments of freedom and space, as well as enabling you to experience all the beautiful sights, sounds and smells that surround you.
Detoxifies the body Taking part in outdoor activities can make your heart sing, releasing tension and assists in detoxifying the body. Try going barefoot if possible – the research on the physiological benefits of ‘grounding’ (also known as ‘earthing’) are becoming well known, especially with regard to the anti-inflammatory assistance it offers.
Feel supported Feel the ground beneath you – the luscious spongy grass, the delicate soft sand… reach your arms up to connect with the sun above you, feel the breeze on your face – nature offers up so much positive feedback and encouraging sensations to motivate and support you through your training regime.
Time out and rejuvenate
As you literally move away from your current surroundings and immerse yourself within the magical stillness and tranquility of the natural world, breathe in the calm serenity and give yourself the opportunity to really experience the deep energy of the land. Do yourself a favour and leave your mobile phone back at the house!
TIPS: Heating breath
Our breath is the key to keeping us warm, and a specific kind of breathing technique will assist you in using this mechanism to great effect – have you noticed that when you go for a long run, you’ll naturally begin to breathe through your mouth? This is an instinctual response that enables the body to cool down. However, if you breathe naturally through both nostrils, with your lips closed and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, this will heat up your internal ‘core’ temperature, and will also store that heat within your body.
Remember – even though you aren’t sweating as much during outdoor exercise in the cooler months, it’s vitally-important to stay properly-hydrated with plenty of water during winter routines as well.
SUMMARY: When combining yoga (and other activities) with the great outdoors, you become one with the inter-connectivity of Life itself – it gives you an embodied understanding of the link between humanity and the earth we live upon.
WELLNESS WEEK DATES for 2015:
Pinetrees Lodge, Lord Howe Island – pinetrees.com.au
Monday 18th -Friday 22 May
Monday 30th August- Friday 4th September
Monday 19th – Friday 23rd October
Monday 16th -Friday 20th November
Cable Beach Resort & Spa – cablebeachclub.com.au
Sunday 22nd – Thursday 26th March
Sunday 3rd – Thursday 7th May
Sunday 13th – Thursday 17th September
Sunday 11th – Thursday 15th October