Turns out, there’s proof communing with nature makes you healthier and happier
Lots of yoga festivals and summer classes take place in pretty outdoor spaces where savasana includes an ocean breeze or your inhale includes the scent of grassy earth in the city.
But renowned yogi and Blissology creator Eoin Finn wants to take the intersection of yoga and nature one step further, starting with his new, and very scenic, DVD, Earth Body Yoga. “I’m trying to make nature essential to yoga,” he says.
Finn says that the “vibrational transcendent energy” that yogis try to tap on the mat is often the same feeling you get when immersed in nature, when a brilliant, beautiful environment makes you suddenly feel super thankful and…small. “Yoga is the systematic reduction of ego. When our egos diminish, we open up to a greater consciousness. That consciousness is a connection I feel when I’m out in nature—and that’s the basis of health and spirituality.”
Call him the Emerson of yoga.
And while Finn talks about the nature-wellness connection in yogic terms, it’s also a scientific theory that has been tested by research. Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson first coined the term “biophilia” in the ’80s to refer to human beings’ innate affinity with nature, a connection he argued was essential to well-being.
Since then, studies have showed that exposure to nature can reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and alleviate depression.
A 2009 review of research on the topic found that “the idea that interacting with Nature can offer positive effects on health and well-being seems to be reasonably well substantiated.”
Of course, it’s easy for Finn to encourage yogis (and anyone) to soak up the sun as he surfs the beaches of Venice and Bali, but he insists even urban office workers can find small ways to let a little nature into our cubicles.
“There are different levels. Not everyone can go to the beach or Yellowstone Park every day, but the whole point is nature appreciation moments,” he says. “Take 10 minutes every day and get very calm and serene and feel the vibration of nature.” Here’s how:
Head to Central Park or a neighborhood patch of grass or keep a potted flower on your windowsill or desk, he suggests. Even simpler, just look up. Not even skyscrapers can rob you of blue skies and clouds floating by.
“You want to really blur the lines between where you end and where nature begins,” he says.
“That’s the bigger idea of the DVD—to soften the hard edges around what we think of as us.” Which is something that you could totally see happening at the Grand Canyon or during a particularly great vinyasa class. —Lisa Elaine Held