Yoga For Your Skin And Body
August 23rd, 2011
Recently, I found myself driving into the near depths of Oregon’s rural parts looking for “Fern Ridge,” a spot recommended by friends. I didn’t really know what I was looking for other than solitude. As I drove on a quest for solitude, with no real sense of landmarks, I unexpectedly arrived at my destination. I parked in a deserted lot with a prairie full of wild flowers and cattails laid out before me. It turns out this spot is a bird sanctuary with a lake nestled in it’s midst. As I hiked along a gravel road I found myself at a second-story cedar platform overlooking the vast prairie of feathered-friend habitat, this is where I decided to stretch into my favorite yoga poses. So with hazy mid-day sun beckoning, I worked myself into the first position, Downward Dog.
Oftentimes choosing the coziest corner of your dwelling with the right mood lighting, music, candles, aromatherapy, and the old moth-balled yoga mat can give you the most comforting deepest yoga experience. Think of how strong your muscles feel when you’re in an inversion pose like a handstand with your blood fully circulating.
Yoga can also completely relax facial muscles from daily stress as you bow into a horizontal Dove pose. When we ease those muscles our skin is less restricted and less likely to wrinkle with worry, stress and age. Your continues practice will significantly improve circulation and the flow of energy throughout your body. The ease of flow from yoga generates a youthful glow in skin by the time you utter the word “Namastay,” in a final salute to honor your body, your practice and all that is you.
With that in mind, consider some of the finest outdoor spaces you know to practice yoga as they can teleport you away from the rush and pace of daily life.
With yoga you can find yourself on a transcendental path to overall wellbeing and excellent health of body and skin. While there are lots of wonderful costly yoga studios, some with an undesirable competitive vibe, I suggest instead some peaceful places to practice while enjoying the final days of summer. We all have a friend who does yoga even if we do not. Invite a friend, grab your mats and head to one of your favorite nature spaces at that low traffic hour whether it’s dawn or dusk. And it’s generally free!
Nothing beats being by the salty sea with a sun rising or setting, as you perch cross-legged on your mat near the water’s edge feeling the solid damp sand beneath you. The sound and visual of the waves lapping the shore become the easy rhythm for your breath as you stretch. Then after your last pose, you can plunge into those undulating waves for a salty dip.
Botanical Gardens and Parks
There are plenty of people who practice Tai Chi in outdoor natural spaces. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is a popular destination for Tai chi goers. Why not do yoga? With floral scents and the vivid colors of nature you can ease into a Mountain pose in botanical tranquility.
If you have thoughts of soaring, find an Audubon Center for your next Sun Salute. Brooklyn’s Prospect Park has one right next to a pond replete with paddle boats. Even there you’ll find a quiet time of day to roll out the mat and get a half hour of relaxing yoga in. The trees provide a shady canopy to keep you cool while you practice, as the sound of the wind mimics your breath. And if you make your way to the Coit fish pond you have another set of gorgeous visuals to glimpse as you stretch.
I recall a visit to the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings in Gila National Forest some years ago—a very prehistoric site in New Mexico. It is the most lush forest you’d never expect to see in desert terrain. At Gila I snuck in a yoga session before a hike of the cliffs. There is a crystal green river that snakes through there under the popular “Catwalk” bridge that meanders along the wall of a pink sandstone arroyo. This was a favorite of mine, but forest is majestic wherever you find yourself for a peaceful tree-hugging yoga session. When the leaves rustle in the land of the giants you feel their humbling omnipresence. You can do your own Tree pose in honorable response to nature’s whispers.
Deserts, by the way, also offer a place of unbelievable introspection in a moonscape-like environment conducive to yoga practice and finding your center of gravity. White Sands National Monument in New Mexico is the most surreal desert surrounded by mountains of limestone. Should you find yourself there bring your yoga mat along for the retreat. Exfoliate your skin in the finest white sand ever while you’re at it.
As long as the weather permits, take advantage of the peaceful retreats nature has to offer until those chilling winter months roll around. Then you’ll reluctantly return to pay the fees for your favorite yoga studio classes. When you choose the quiet solitude of the outdoors for yoga practice, you will achieve a sense of balance that will give your body and skin the healthiest most vibrant appearance bestowed by nature- with the loving kiss of Vitamin D.