The Nature of Outdoor Fitness


By Madison Raye

Often times, when people take up yoga, they do it indoors but not getting the full benefit of it. Everyone gets busy and forgets to get outside and enjoy the sun and fresh air.

The Journal of Environmental Psychology’s study Vitalizing Effects Of Being Outdoors and in Nature looked at  “five methodologically varied studies that revealed a consistent positive relation between being outdoors and subjective vitality.” This means that being outdoors is associated with increased energy levels. No need to shy from the outdoors, run towards it. It’s truly a life saver.  

Melissa Sousa, the Senior Wellness and Recreation Coordinator at Seneca says she is pushing for more outdoor recreation such as outdoor yoga.

Outdoor Fall yoga session at Seneca College. Photo by Madison Raye.

“We started a wellness position within our athletics and recreation department only a short year ago, and we’ve been focusing on wellness ever since and bringing in more wellness ideas,” says Sousa. “One of the things we really wanted to do was to try to get yoga outdoors.”

Sousa says her reasons for getting outdoors to practice yoga is for the psychological benefits. 

Getting outside provides stress relief, improves self-esteem, confidence and energy levels. 

While being outside provides psychological benefits, Sousa says she was also pushing the recreational yoga for the extra source of vitamin D, which you don’t get from being inside.

 “One of the big things for me why I why I wanted to do it to begin with was just the psychological benefits of outdoor activities.Studies have shown that doing it often provides further prevention of stress relief, improved self esteem, improved confidence and energy levels as well,” says Sousa.

Yoga has been a go-to method of relaxation for many years. Some practitioners take the time to study abroad in India, yoga’s birthplace. Yoga classes are offered to all, and those who enjoy the  methodical movement and accompanying by breathing techniques will persistently take up the practice.

Jessica Pyper, a yoga teacher, and lover of the outdoors says she has gone to India to train and study the nature of yoga, where yoga orginated and studied some yoga biomechanics in British Columbia. 

She teaches at Golden Lotus Yoga Studio in Golden, B.C. and she is certified in other areas surrounding outdoor activities,  she is also a snowboard and mountain bike instructor. 

While growing up, Pyper’s mother  , a professor in health sciences, was a big influence in her life.   

Her mother taught her kids about the body and exercise while teaching exercise classes. Pyper’s mother inspired  her  to pursue yoga and she says is the reason she has taken it upon herself to get the necessary training. 

“I did my 200-hour yoga teacher training in Goa, India…that was in 2011 and that was my first formal training,” says Pyper.

Pyper agrees that getting outside is so much more beneficial and people need to do it more often. 

“You’re breathing fresh air and doing breathing exercises and just the element of being outside has such a grounding effect on us in general,” she says.

Pyper says that to her, the main benefit of yoga is the stress relief and breathing with a combination of fresh air. She agrees that it is more awakening for the mind and body as you get to look at nature as opposed to dull walls and windows brightened by unattractive fluorescent lights.

Pyper also takes part in snowga (snow yoga) and she says that she does this because many people avoid going outside during the winter due to the cold. 

Winter can be a depressing time for people  and   Pyper feels that the reason for this is people  are happier when they spend time outside. 

“In the winter people don’t go outside nearly enough especially in countries like Canada and Sweden, the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where people are essentially depressed all winter long,” she says. 

“I think most of that just stems from not being outside enough.”

She says that people getting outside more and doing more winter activities might lower the chances of suffering from SAD. 

“Any activity to get you outside more often in the winter is going to help your mood, you’re getting more vitamin D through the sunshine which was proven to have many health benefits such as reduction of cardiovascular disease, obesity, hormone regulation, we sleep better, it kind of has a holistic benefit on the entire body,” she says.

Not many people take part in snowga as it is cold and people have their limits for being outdoors. But getting outside and exposing your body to natural elements is a safe and healthy way to live.  

Health and wellness are important regardless if it’s yoga or dance or sports. Getting outside and surrounding yourself with nature is a crucial factor to healthy living.

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