Yoga in the Wild
Updated: Jan 19
With studios closed and nowhere to go, I found myself reconnecting with nature.
Image Credit: Fereshteh Azadi- unsplash
Part way through what some are saying is the longest lockdown in the world, I transformed my craft cupboard, a couple of chairs, a roller-blind and a plank of wood into an animation studio.
It sounds like the set up for a joke and it might have been.
Throw in a tripod, install a stop motion app and I was off and running with getting instructional videos for the Feelix Yoga Strap underway. As you do.
There was just one problem. It took up space. Rather a lot. Or more specifically, just a little too much to still fit my yoga mat into was what my office/craft room/yoga studio.
I now had an office/animation studio. The craft cupboard was holding up a backdrop, and I no longer had chairs to sit at the sewing machine. My space was all work.
Where I’d previously just had enough room for virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3) if I was in the middle of the room I was now restricted to paschimottanasana and seated twists.
To avoid being a novelty backdrop for my husband’s work my inside options were limited to the kitchen, the bathtub (I didn’t seriously consider this there’s no overhead space), or the narrow entryway.
The entryway was adequate so long as I stayed within the confines of the mat, but kind of miserable with walls within touching distance and unlike my little office (now animation studio) there was no window.
There was nothing for it but to take my practice outside.
I live in a flat on the second floor. ‘Outside’ is literally outside my neighbours kitchen windows. I was certain they did not want to be looking at my butt in the air as they made their breakfast.
So I snuck out, crack of dawn hoping to get my practice completed before I was seen.
One of my favourite things with lockdown has been no alarms. I’m waking with the sun. In winter that was 8am. Now the seasons have changed, it’s closer to six.
I lay my mat out on the little patch of grass by the washing line, turned to face the rising sun.
It was magic. My sun salutations were towards a magnificent palm tree in a neigbour’s yard two houses away.
When my feet and hands landed on the grassy ground they softened into the damp earth.
My concentration was no longer on a screen listening for the next cue, wondering if the computer had frozen and I was going to be stuck in utkatasana chair forever (it happened, chair on tiptoes no less!).
I was instead feeling into my body exploring which way it wanted to move then, racking my brain to remember what I’d just done to repeat on the other side then half way through deciding it needed something just a little different!
There was a desperation to get out, to get moving, to not be seen. I was hooked.
It was less than a week of morning practice before everyone in the apartments had seen some variation of my daily practice which, for transparency, includes a good dose of faceplants to keep me grounded.
I stopped caring if I was intruding on their morning and invited them to join me.
About four months in one did. A tiny yoga community in our own backyard was formed, two mats and a couple of washing lines.
Here’s what I discovered when I had no one to guide me but myself.
My practice changed depending on the weather and the day of the week.
No two days are the same. Wednesday is a real slump day for me.
I get surprisingly stressed about being equal on both sides.
I find it easier to find stillness outside.
There are at least three different types of grass in our yard. There is one that is just now going to seed that you really don’t want to put your hand or foot or head on!
Without music or talking there is nothing but your thoughts.
On the days I was festering on something my focus was all over the place. The ground was uneven, the trees too noisy, my body would be rigid and heavy, everything was difficult.
When I found myself thinking about happy things I couldn’t hold a pose, I needed to move in every direction all at once.
Light rain is nice to practice in. Cold rain down your butt though is just as unpleasant as hot sweat but easier to ignore.
Beanies do not stay on when you are in adho mukha svanasana down dog.
There is something really special about dew drops sitting on the tops of blades of grass first thing in the morning.
It is easy to get lost in a pose when you’re looking at the sky.
You can practice yoga anywhere, sometimes it’s better with friends under a blue sky.
A new normal?
My animation images are now in production and my office back to normal. It will be nice to go back to the yoga studios which are just now starting to reopen but I think I’ll keep my backyard morning routine as well.
Besides, the neighbours now have a blind on their kitchen window..!
How has your practice changed in 2020?