Navigating the natural world can be a difficult task for the visually impaired. While cities utilize tactile paving and beeping pelican crossings, nature has no such aids. However, spending time in nature is a vital part of positive wellbeing. While yoga alone can hugely increase a person’s self-esteem and reduce stress levels, it can be taken to the next level when practiced in the great outdoors. So here’s why a good yoga instructor should be willing to take their students into the natural world.
Yoga involves becoming deeply present with your body and your surroundings. This means paying attention to all the sensations around you. Even in blind people, light triggers a neurological reaction. Therefore, spending time in sunlight will still have its benefits.
Exposure to natural sunlight will boost mood, while lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. This means that those practicing yoga will be able to relax more deeply and feel the stress-reducing benefits.
While yoga halls tend to be clean, they are still vulnerable to pollution. Indoor air can be up to 62% more polluted than outdoor air. By taking your yoga practice outside, away from urban areas, you will be getting the clean oxygen you need to maintain difficult poses.
The sensation of fresh air on the skin will also help a visually impaired person connect with nature spiritually. It will allow them to connect to nature through smelling the flowers and plants that surround them. It also produces a natural sound that is conducive to finding a meditative state.
Beyond the sound of the wind howling, there are many more outdoor noises which aid yoga practice. If you can take your yoga mat to a beach or riverside, the rushing water can have a deeply calming effect that is difficult to replicate indoors. There may even be animals around. The scuttling of a squirrel or song of a bird creates yet more feelings of connection to the earth.
All these sensations combined - the sunlight, the feeling and taste of the air, the smells of the trees and the sounds of water and animals - are incredibly powerful to tune into. A visually impaired person already appreciates the need for these senses to help them navigate the world. However, it can be hard to create a mindful state with the background sounds of traffic or smell of dusty indoor air. Taking yoga practice deep into nature can create an experience of relaxation like no other.
Photo by: Juan Davila