March 22, 2023
by Kyuri Lin
Traditionally, the yoga asana-s (postures) are practiced on a mat with a teacher guiding the practice. As my personal practice grew, I realized that yoga can be incorporated into many different aspects of my life. The practice that happens off the mat has transformed me in so many ways. I practice breathing when I drive to quell road rage, pause and stretch during hikes to reduce joint pain and practice around incredible scenery while taking in all the magic that happens in the great outdoors.
So, for this post I will share where my practice has taken me and how I was able to benefit from the practice off the mat.
I woke up early before the sun after our first campout at this location. I took time in the morning to take in the surroundings, pick up some of the trash that was left behind and sat down for my meditation practice. Once the sun came up, my practice began with sun salutations.
Urdhva Mukha Shavasana is Sanskrit for upward facing dog, a pose that is very familiar to the yoga community. It is incorporated into the sun salutation and helps to open up the front body, strengthens shoulders and legs while stretching out the back as well as the front of the hips. It’s an important posture that helps counter a lot of the slouching that happens while seated for long periods. It was my favorite part of the practice at this location because it gave me the opportunity to lookup, enjoy the views, take a big breath while flowing like the water that surrounded me.
Everything about this place is beautiful and bewildering. When you see the vast white dunes that roll on for miles, you wonder if it’s snow or sand and realize it’s neither. They call it white sand, but in reality, they are selenite and gypsum crystals that were broken up by wind and water to create this incredible place.
My favorite asana that I practiced here was Natarajasana or dancer pose. After walking up and down the dunes and exploring for hours, I started to feel tightness in the front of my hips. Dancer pose is able to really get into the front of the hips after long hikes. It not only felt good but standing high on the dunes gave me the perfect vantage point to enjoy the sunset.
During my road trip across the Americas, I found this little gem on my way to Alaska. After hours on the road, a stop at the hot springs was exactly what my sore and tired body needed. Since I was new to the location, I decided to visit the springs first thing in the morning because I get lost easily and I was glad I did. The long wooden boardwalk opened up into expansive springs that were surrounded by boreal forests.
The pose kukutasana was perfect for this location because you can only sit in the hot water for so long before becoming overheated. Just sitting on the stone above the falls would have been enough, but leave it to a yogi to turn it into an asana.
The beach is one of my all-time favorite places to practice yoga. The warmth of the sun, the soothing sounds of the rolling waves and the soft forgiving sand gives me the courage to try poses that I feel are too risky to do on hard surfaces (I used to face plant often during my early days of yoga).
Adho(downward) mukha(facing) vrksasana(tree pose) is something that I have been practicing for years and I still have good and bad days with this pose. On this particular day though, I felt strong, fluid and balanced and it gave me the opportunity to express myself in a beautiful way. It’s the pose that makes me realize that when you dedicate yourself to any practice, anything is possible.
Practicing back bends are some of my favorite aspects of yoga. It helps us to counter all the rounding that happens in our day-to-day life and helps to correct our posture. You can do it standing, seated or even reclined. On this day, I hiked and explored the incredible redwoods of northern California. The century year old trees towered over me and made me wonder what they have experienced in all those years. After long hikes a standing stretch like urdhva hastasana is the best way to elongate and stretch the whole body. Since I love back bending, I used the support of a fallen redwood to help me get deep into my front body and it was juicy as hell.
When we are able to connect to mother nature, we are able to find a deeper connection to ourselves and our place in it. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps to inspire you to get outdoors!
Kyuri Lin is a yoga therapist and content creator based out of Southern California. Her passion for wellness, the great outdoors, travel and cannabis led her to work in the health and fitness industry. Since 2014, Kyuri has worked with clients one-on-one to help them reach their fitness goals, and improve their moods and enhance their lives. As a cancer survivor, Kyuri has a valuable perspective on wellness, and she believes that cannabis and yoga can be an important part of healing journeys.