Updated: Jan 21
Whilst the peak summer weather may have left us behind, there's still time to make the most of the remaining summer days. In fact, you have until Sunday, 28th October.
This is when daylight saving ends and we can all look forward to those dark mornings and shorter days. Said no one ever.
The aptly name SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) will begin to affect lots of people in the UK. So, now is the time to make the most of these longer and warmer days and take your yoga practice outside.
This could be either a quick early routine to get you set for the day, or watching the sun peacefully set somewhere.
There are many reasons why you should do this, and, in this blog, we will detail our top 5.
1. Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D.
Thought to be one of the main drivers of SAD is the lack and drop in Vitamin D.
It's not just plants that absorb and metabolise sunlight. We get our recommended dose of Vitamin D from natural sunlight as well.
This has always been the main studied and reported benefit of the sun. Vitamin D can support your body with the following:
Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
However, a breakthrough study from the University of Edinburgh found some added benefits. They found that as soon as natural sunlight hits your skin, a compound called Nitric Oxide is released. Which helps to reduce blood pressure, cut the risk of heart attack and strokes, the study suggests.
As always if you are going to be in the sun of a prolonged period, make sure to sunscreen up!
2. You'll Release More Feel-Good Hormones
When you've had a great workout, your body will naturally release dopamine and serotonin. These are the hormones that makes us feel great and energised after a workout.
You release more of these hormones when you exercise outdoors. This is supported with research from 2011. The results showed that exercising in natural environments led to greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement.
This was also combined with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression. So, it's a win win!
3. A Change in Scenery
It's always good to get out of your comfort zone every now and then. It's great having a place to go every week where you can feel safe. However, practicing in an unknown and new environment can help build your confidence even more.
You may have overcome the fears of starting yoga and now be comfortable in your class. Going to a park with kids, dogs and passers by curiously watching you is another thing.
Plus, imagine doing sun salutations under actual sun. The exuberance of a tree poses while focusing on an actual tree.
If this change in scenery does lead you outside you also have the below benefits to look forward to.
4. The Natural Benefits of Being One with Nature
A run or even a quick walk with the dog can do wonders to clear your head and improve your mood. Studies show that being outside has some great benefits on your general well being.
Improved short-term memory - A simple walk in nature boosted short-term memory by 20%.
Restore mental energy - Nature has long been considered a restorative environment. One study showed people's mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature.
Reduce Stress - Even the view of nature from an office window was found to decrease stress and improve job satisfaction.
Improve Concentration - The attentional effect of nature is so strong it was found to help kids with ADHD. A study found kids concentrated better after just 20 minutes in a park.
Whether it’s trying to zone out the joyful barks or dogs, or the shouts of those playing football. You'll be more focused on your poses and maintaining good form.
Those above benefits are also the benefits found in past yoga studies. So, imagine how good the combination of yoga and the outdoors could be!
5. Work Harder and Longer
If you're a runner, you'll probably prefer running outside compared to running on a treadmill. The thought of running for miles staring at a wall just isn't very appealing. So, you can understand why training in doors all the time can get boring.
When you're outside your seeing new scenery, new people and generally will enjoy it more. A study from 2006 supports this. It found those who trained outside vs inside, had a more favourable attitude towards training. They also expressed a more favourable level of enjoyment about the training program.
Another study found those who trained outside felt more energetic and enthusiastic.
So, your challenge this week is to spend 10-15 minutes outside doing a small yoga routine and see how you feel! Even if its just in your back garden.
Even if you don’t want to do yoga just sit down and relax outside, focus on the sound of your breathing and take deep breathes.