Updated: Jan 3
It's well documented that spending time in the great outdoors is good for our physical and mental wellbeing. But, because we spend 90% of our time indoors, we must bring the outside, in.
How is this yoga?
Awareness. Mindfulness. Attention. Concentration. Choices. Wellbeing. You might not be able to choose your boss or co-workers, but you can definitely choose to maximize nature and affect your own wellbeing, even when you're tied to your desk.
Here are three very easy "green" things you can do TODAY to stay sane at work.
Step One: One plant is powerful
Yes, just one plant can make a difference. You're in hyper focus with a screen for most of your life right now (even if you're not working, maybe you're on your phone for one reason or another). Your mind and eyes need a break! Studies have shown that tearing your eyes away from the screen and staring at a green plant can give you that break AND restore your focus. Give yourself a little "plant time," and return to greater productivity. In some circles, it's called "attention restoration theory."
Step Two: Select a screen saver for positive disruption
If you must be tethered to your desktop, use nature. Choose a screensaver that gives you a dose of nature when the screen breaks. Of course it's not the real forest, but in this moment, you can connect to nature to restore attention and concentration.. The Harvard Business Review called it a "greenery microbreak." Yes, I know pictures of kids, dogs, celebrities make awesome screen savers. Consider the actual wellbeing effects of a nature scene and give yourself a real shot of health.
Step Three: Take breath breaks like you're in nature
Apparently it takes 1000 plants in a 10x10 office space to actually clean the air, so creating a forest is not realistic. However, you know how you breathe when you're in nature. For me, the smell of the ocean, even just getting close to it, automatically gets me to inhale and exhale more deeply. In this case, when I'm at my desk, it's not green, but blue, that gives me the breathing inspiration. You get the picture. In yoga, controlled breathing practices, or pranayama, helps us practice mastering our minds by mastering our breath.
Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in nature (your choice: green, blue, etc.) Just be aware of your breathing for a moment and its current state.
Inhale through your nose, and exhale with a decent sigh and release.
Close your lips, breathe in through your nose, and exhale through your nose.
Retain the visual and start to practice keeping your inhales and exhales even in length and pace. See if you can start to make them longer, deeper, and more at ease as you visualize somewhere in nature that invites contentment.
The benefits of outdoor yoga are beyond
One of my favorite ways to practice yoga is in the outdoors after establishing some good, safe, informed practice habits in a controlled environment, such as the studio. Outdoors, as we connect to our environments, we cannot control what happens - wind pushes your tree pose like, what? There's a rock under my foot... omg I can't balance!
How we respond, bend, breathe, and flow with whatever shows up is one of the most profound ways to practice your yoga in real life. There will always be a time when a proverbial rock does something to throw you off balance.
Whether it's getting more green outdoors or bringing the green to your workspace, in our screen-obsessed world, these choices can help you feel more like you. It's only natural.
My next retreat, practicing in a lavender farm during harvest, is sold out, but you can get on the mailing list for the next one or find an outdoor yoga class near you. There are so many! Namaste.