3 Yoga Poses to Practice in the Maine Outdoors
As the weather gets warmer and the days stretch out longer, Mother Nature presents us with an abundance of opportunities to bask in summer mindfulness. There’s no simpler way to get lost in the moment than by spending the perfect present being perfectly present. Whether it’s a hike along your favorite trail, paddling down a rushing river or picking the season’s plumpest blueberries, the outdoors can offer us countless chances for deep self-reflection, restoration and wonder.
Adding yoga and meditation to the list of outdoor activities that can awaken the senses feels like a no-brainer. An article from Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging shows that meditation plays an active role in positively changing brain matter and increases overall well-being and quality of life. And according to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, yoga has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve a vast number of autonomic functions and offer a myriad of other physical and mental health benefits.
With the many majestic destinations Mainers have to choose from, it seems only fitting to explore them as places to practice yoga and meditation. Here are three of the best yoga poses you can strike to become one with Maine’s natural beauty:
1. A Mountain Top Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose, or “Tadasana,” is the single most foundational pose in yoga. To practice it, the yogi stands tall and straight, stacking the spine upright while rooting the feet into the earth. It’s from this pose that all other poses stem. As yogis flow through more progressive movements, maintaining Tadasana, authenticity is what keeps them safely aligned. This stacked positioning facilitates ease in seated meditation — a pivotal part of yoga.
Practicing Tadasana on top of a mountain is an awe-inspiring way to become one with the outdoors. Since it’s also the first posture in the series, “Sun Salutations A,” flowing through a few rounds is a great way to welcome the dawn and channel the ancient yogis with mindful morning movement.
2. Grow Your Own Tree
Tree pose, or “Vrksasana,” is a balancing posture that explores the deep connection between our inner roots and the Universe. To practice it, place the sole of one foot on the inside of the opposite calf or thigh. You can adopt a “mudra” or symbolic hand gesture to draw yourself further inward, or grow your branches into the sky and sway them playfully in the breeze.
The best way to experience Tree Pose is in your favorite stretch of woods. Strive to become one with the elements, fixing your gaze on a faraway focal point or “drishti” and taking deep, relaxing breaths of fresh, forest air.
3. Flow Through Easy Seated Ocean Breaths
Ocean Breath, or “Ujjayi Pranayama,” is known as the “Breath of Victory.” This deep, measured yogic breath is practiced by inhaling fully through the nose, keeping the lips sealed and breathing out through the nose. The length of each exhale is equal to the length of each inhale. The breath originates from the base of the throat and creates a hoarse, whisper-like noise upon release (think Darth Vader). You can practice Ocean Breath to help maintain focus, invigorate the senses and distribute dynamic breath through the entire body.
Find a comfortable seat on the sand of your favorite Maine beach, close your eyes, place upward-facing palms on your lap and begin to flow this energizing breath through your system. Work to sync up to the sound of the crashing waves, keeping your thoughts on the power of the present and the force of your Ujjayi Breath.
Yoga means “Union” in Sanskrit. Merging it with Maine’s most compelling outdoor destinations is one of the best ways to nurture yourself… with nature.
—Text: LeeMarie Kennedy. LeeMarie is a copywriter and content marketing specialist in Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not meticulously wordsmithing, she can be found teaching as a certified yoga instructor, exploring her own yoga practice, traveling the world, laughing, drinking coffee or eating something delicious.