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Why I Wish I Tried Outdoor Yoga Earlier

Why I Wish I Tried Outdoor Yoga Earlier

I’ve been a yoga fanatic for some time and was getting to a pretty comfortable place at my studio until a friend invited me to go do an outdoor session with her one Saturday morning. It was phenomenal! Why hadn’t I tried it earlier?! The poses and movements I thought I was good at were suddenly so much harder and I was stumbling all over the place. But I didn’t feel like a failure, instead I felt like I had hit a new level with my yoga. In case you’re still unsure as to whether you want to try outdoor yoga, check out these following benefits. If I had known about these benefits beforehand, I would have tried outdoor yoga far sooner!

It Aligns You With Nature

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    Yeah, I know, it’s an obvious benefit—but just wait. This connection isn’t just for nature buffs, by practicing outside you can help with certain mental ailments. It has been shown that being outside can help with depression, stress, dementia, and your overall wellbeing. Practicing yoga outdoors can not only be a physical benefit for you but can also help with mental struggles. If you find yourself overly stressed by family life or work, try taking a morning or two to practice your yoga poses in the park or even in your backyard.

    It Increases Skill and Muscles for Balance

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      When I first started yoga, my balance was terrible! After months of practice, I found that I struggled less, but then I tried outdoor yoga. Talk about a shocker! You often think grass lawns are pretty flat, but my mat was rippled all over the place by the bouncy grass stalks and random little rocks or bumps in the ground. Since starting outdoor yoga, my balance has improved exponentially. In the gym, I often used certain spots on the wall or ceilings to focus to help with my balance, but almost everything outside was moving so I had to dig deeper into my muscles to keep steady.

      It Develops Inner Strength and Stability

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        Doing yoga outdoors tends to push you to become one with the wind and atmosphere. When you’re outside, you can’t really control the environment (or temperature!) which means that you begin to gain more strength and stability because you aren’t in such a quiet and perfect setting! Being outdoors forces us to accept these natural elements (noises, breeze, sun heat, etc.) which in turn helps us become more stable and stronger in more than just the physical aspects of our lives and bodies. Don’t forget that you may want to switch up your yoga pants for outdoor yoga. If it’s going to be warmer and you don’t have the choice of turning down the AC, you may want to get a pair of capri yoga pants when practicing outside.

        Oh! And by the way, another great benefit of outdoor yoga is that it improves your lung capacity. Your body has a 6-liter lung capacity and being outside often makes you want to breath deeper to get more oxygen in. This then breaks up pollutants or toxins that get trapped in your alveoli.

        It’s More of a Challenge

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          When practicing outside, there are more things to get distracted by. With so many variables and distractions you will need to focus harder on breathing and balance. This will improve your mental strength and clarity. Along with this, attempting to balance your poses in grass or sand can also produce more of a challenge! Because of uneven ground, little critters, or even the sun shinning in your eyes, you will need to try harder to keep your balance and focus on your poses.

          Most of us already know that yoga is a great form of exercise, not just for extremely active people either. And if you’ve already tapped into those great benefits, maybe it’s time to move up to the next level. If you’re looking for more a challenge or feel like you have hit a stalemate with your yoga, try switching up your studio time with a few more outdoor sessions. You will be so surprised by the growth and mental benefits!

          If you’re still looking for more information on the benefits of practicing outdoor yoga, take a look at the articles here and here.

          Featured photo credit: Stickney Brook Yoga 386/Matthew Ragan via flic.kr

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          Bethany Cleg

          Photographer, Entrepreneur

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          Published on July 9, 2020

          10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

          10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

          As you grow older, it becomes hard to balance and have stability in your joints if you’re not engaging in leg toning workouts. You start losing muscle mass, strength, and function over time. Furthermore, if you’re physically inactive, you’ll lose 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass each decade after age 30.

          Thankfully, you can still score your strongest legs ever with the help of leg toning workouts. Strong legs help you support your body better and make you more attractive. Also, they are less susceptible to injuries.

          The best part? You don’t need fancy and expensive gym equipment to fire up those leg muscles. You can do that right at home.

          Ready to get strong? Here are the best at-home leg toning workout moves for women.

          1. Bodyweight Squats

            The squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises. It’s an amazing way to tone your legs. Not only does it help you build lean muscle, but it also works your abs, butt, and hips. Also, if you’re suffering from back pain, it’s a great option as it doesn’t strain your back when done right. To do a squat:

            • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
            • Bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
            • Pause for a moment and push yourself back to your original position.
            • Repeat.

            For extra support, consider doing this near a wall. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps twice or thrice a week.

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            2. Forward Lunges

              When it comes to strength training, lunges are one of the most popular choices. It strengthens your legs while improving mobility and stability. Lunges also sculpt your butt and abs. What’s more, it can also help improve your posture. In order to do forward lunges properly:

              • Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet hip-width apart.
              • Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body into a lunge until both knees are bent 90 degrees.
              • If possible, lightly touch the floor with your left knee.
              • Push off on your front foot to bring yourself to the starting position.
              • Repeat on the other side.

              Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each leg. You can also do it without dumbbells if you’re just getting started.

              3. Single-Leg Deadlift

                Single-leg deadlifts targets all the major muscles, such as hamstrings, glutes, and even your core. It develops strength, balance, and stability. Another advantage of doing single-leg deadlifts is that it improves mobility through the legs and hips. To do a single-leg deadlift:

                • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
                • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the front of your thighs.
                • Lean forward and shift your weight on the left leg with your right leg extended slightly behind you.
                • Lift your extended right leg until your body is parallel to the floor, arms hanging down.
                • Slowly return to the starting position.
                • Repeat and switch legs after doing all the reps.

                Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps with a 60 second break in between. If you’re new to this, you can also do it without weights.

                4. Jumping Jacks

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                  Jumping jacks are an excellent leg toning workout move. They work your quadriceps, glutes, and hips. According to one study[1], they may also improve bone density. Additionally, this exercise also increases strength and agility. Here’s how you do jumping jacks:

                  • Stand straight with your legs together and arms to your sides.
                  • Jump into the air and spread your legs slightly beyond shoulder-width apart while your arms stretch over your head.
                  • Jump back quickly, bringing yourself to the starting position.
                  • Repeat.

                  Start with 3 sets of 10 or more repetitions of jumping jacks.

                  5. Single-Leg Calf Raise

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                    The single-leg calf raise strengthens both your lower legs and helps improve balance on one foot. This is important because it can improve sports performance and prevent injuries. Furthermore, it can also help prevent the onset of knee pain. Finally, it may also increase the size of your calves. To do a single-leg calf raise:

                    • Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and arms on your hips.
                    • Bend your left knee and bring it hip-level.
                    • Lift your right heel off the ground and balance on the ball of your foot.
                    • Pause for a moment and lower your heel.
                    • Repeat and then switch sides.

                    Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps on each leg. Consider adding weight to make it more difficult.

                    6. Side Lunges

                      This leg toning workout move targets the sides of the glutes and quadricep muscles. It’s also a great exercise for tight hips and groin. Needless to say, it strengthens both your legs and boosts stability. To execute a side lunge the right way:

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                      • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands clasped in front of your chest.
                      • Take a big step out to the right and lower your right knee until it is bent 90 degrees while pushing your butt back.
                      • Keep your left leg straight during the process.
                      • Push back and return to the starting position.
                      • Repeat.

                      Shoot for 10-12 reps and switch sides. Aim for 3 sets on each leg.

                      7. Plank Leg Lifts

                        Plank leg lifts work your butt and upper legs. With this exercise, you’ll also be able to get the benefits of a regular plank, meaning it will tone your whole body. It trains your core, glutes, and shoulders. Even better? It also trims body fat and improves posture. To do a plank leg lift:

                        • Begin in a low plank position with your body straight and weight on your forearms.
                        • Tighten your abs and raise your right leg, pausing for a moment.
                        • Lower your right leg and do the same with your left leg.
                        • Repeat.

                        Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps. Brace your abs and glutes during the process.

                        8. Glute Bridge

                          The glute bridge makes one of the best leg toning workouts for beginners. It sculpts your legs and improves hip mobility. If done correctly, it also enhances core stability. This exercise is also safe for people with chronic back pain. To do a glute bridge:

                          • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your arms at your sides.
                          • Squeeze your abs and glutes.
                          • Raise your hips off the floor until your shoulder, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
                          • Pause for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
                          • Repeat.

                          Shoot for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Do this 2-3 times a week. You can also wrap a resistance band around your thighs to challenge your endurance.

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                          9. Step-Ups

                            If you’re looking to strengthen your thighs, step-ups are an excellent choice. It targets the quadricep muscle that helps protect the knee. What’s more, it also improves balance and stability. You can do step-ups anywhere. All you have to do is find a bench, chair or any raised platform. To do a step-up properly:

                            • Begin standing facing a step.
                            • Place your right foot on the step and left foot on the floor.
                            • Press through your right heel and bring the left foot up until your left knee forms a 90-degree angle.
                            • Hold this position for a moment and then return to the starting position.
                            • Repeat and switch legs.

                            Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side. To make it harder, hold dumbbells in your hands.

                            10. Dumbbell Good Morning

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                              Dumbbell good mornings mainly target the hamstrings, but they also improve hip and back strength. You’ll also be able to develop stronger glutes with this exercise. Overall, it’s a great exercise for toning your legs. To perform this exercise:

                              1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent while holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level.
                              2. Hinge forward at your hips, and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor.
                              3. Hold this position for 4-5 seconds and return to your original position.
                              4. Repeat.

                              Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

                              Final Thoughts

                              There are so many benefits of having well-toned legs. Stronger legs not only look good, but they also give you greater independence as you age. Therefore, it’s important to take good care of them.

                              In addition to exercise, you should also consider exfoliation and moisturization to keep your legs smooth, healthy, and firm. Always remember that strong legs are important if you want to live a healthy and active life. So, start working those leg muscles today, and you’ll thank yourself later.

                              More Tips on Strengthening Your Legs

                              Featured photo credit: Sergio Pedemonte via unsplash.com

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