Warrier 1, shifting to Warrier 2, moving through a Sun Salutation, my bare feet planted on my yoga mat… I breathe in deeply. Familiar smells from the canyon reach me – ocean breezes blow over Sage and through Eucalyptus – Even with my eyes closed, I know where I am. I know this place by its familiar scents. And I find calm in that familiarity.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a hummingbird appears right in front of my face! He is hovering there in mid-air, looking at me, wings beating furiously fast, creating a sort of whirring noise. I can’t help but laugh and, of course, lose my Warrier! The hummingbird is there to tell me his feeder ran empty. There is a pause in my practice as I look over at the empty feeder hanging from a tree in my garden, and I know I cannot ignore my winged friend. I can afford to take a moment out for him – after all he and his buddies bring me so much entertainment with their antics over the course of the day. When I come back outside holding a full feeder of ruby-colored liquid, I find the hummingbird perched on a slender branch waiting patiently. Really, I need not worry that he would starve – there are so many blooming plants for him here in my canyon garden. One of his favorites is the native: Nicotiana (or Tobacco Plant) with its long, yellow, tubular flowers. No, the feeder is more a reflection of my own selfishness, wanting to keep him coming around to entertain me.
So How Do I Make a Yoga Garden Exactly?
The first thing to do in making a yoga garden is to find a space. Choosing the right location is essential. If a space does not feel good to you before you put down your mat, it won’t feel any better afterwards either. You will want an out-of-the-way spot without foot traffic, but not a stuffy corner. You will want a breeze. Breath In. Breathe Out. Life is Breath. You will also want a little sunshine. Pick the right time of day so a bit of sun falls on your face, ideally an early morning or late afternoon sun, avoiding the distraction of direct midday rays. It will be quieter then, too. Quiet means: away from the street, away from traffic. You will want both a private and quiet space. Doing yoga under trees can be nice, as long as pine needles are not dropping all over your mat and the tree is not making too much shade.
If you have a deck, you might appropriate it for your yoga practice. It will need to be clear of objects for a visual and practical flow. Patios can be used too, providing they allow for enough space to stretch. For me, I prefer a piece of earth, as I find decks to be too hard to be comfortable. Lawns can be okay, depending how lumpy the grass is, but I would rather use a smooth, sandy spot or an area with compressed gravel, where I would place two mats on top of each other.
Whatever way you go, make your space your own.
If you choose a patio or deck, small-space potted plants such as Scented Geraniums, Nightshade, Rosemary, and Paper White Narcissus can be arranged to bring your favorite scents close to your face. Tuning in to fragrance will deepen your awareness of other small things and help create a lasting remembrance of your space… (See list of suggested fragrant native plants for the garden.)
Sounds are important, too. A small fountain can bring instant calm, as you listen to it gurgling over pebbles or marbles. The sounds of windchimes might be the sound you want to listen to. As gentle breezes blow, listen to their music.
Include a statue or another object that has personal meaning to you to focus on as you meditate and set your intentions for the day.
Breathe in, breathe out: your mind will become clear. Remember, this is your space. Visualize it in your mind’s eye. Once you get used to coming to the same spot and rolling out your mat each day, the continuity and familiarity of your own space will let you go further, stretch deeper into your poses, and move beyond.
Benefits of Outdoor Yoga
Nature provides for us all the elements we need to experience a fulfilling yoga practice: Walking on the earth in our bare feet on the way to the mat, stepping on natural elements like stone pavers interlaced with soft groundcovers, breathing in fresh air, feeling the breeze on our necks, and feeling warm life-giving sun on our faces. Garden scents reach us, adding another delightful dimension and building rich memories. Shadows play on the mat as overhead tree branches sway. Clouds move across the sky, changing the yoga garden scene even while your eyes are closed. And, of course, there are the delightful unexpected visits from wildlife…
Whether expanding your mind and body in Triangle pose, or relaxing in Savasana, practicing yoga in your garden is the perfect start to any day, as well as an ideal way to experience a healthy break during the afternoon. Enjoy!
Breathe In and Notice Fragrant Native Plants:
A yoga garden is not complete without fragrance. Add fragrant native plants when planning your space, and attract birds at the same time. Select a grouping of plants that bloom at different times of the year, or ones that bloom all year long, so your space will always have fragrance.
This article is a part of the April / May 2017 issue of Whole Life Times.