Living in London in a third story flat means that we have no back garden, which can be a little frustrating at times when all I want is to walk outside and practice yoga. It means that I have to be a little more creative when it comes to finding places to practice outside. Practice does not need to be confined to studios or your own home, once you step out of your comfort zone and begin to practice anywhere, you will discover a new freedom, particularly when you get outside. This has taken me some time to realise, but no-one ever told me to just drop down and yoga wherever you please.
We have a lovely green area around our flat and for months I was filled with anxiety and apprehension about using the space to practice. In the summer months, our flat has been sweltering and it began to be quite uncomfortable to practice in. One day my boyfriend shut down my whining and pointed out that no-one would give a damn bit of notice to what I was doing, they were too busy worrying about their own lives. It made me realise how self-absorbed I had been and that my overblown anguish was all in my head. So I grabbed my mat and a bottle of water and headed for the unknown. I was a little scared, but once I hopped onto my mat and began to flow, that fear all disappeared.
The new setting of hedges, trees, the sun belting down and the uneven ground beneath my feet was revitalising and challenging. I was out of the comfort of my living room having to adjust poses, alter my approach to my practice and inevitably get out of my usual rivers of thinking. In doing this, I managed to achieve strange and wonderful asana, which I genuinely thought were impossible for me. Most of my constraints are in my head when it comes to what I can achieve, so changing up my practice breaks away from the restrictions that are holding me back. I find getting outside clears my head, calms me down and brings a new level to my abilities.
Take for instance pinchamayurasana (feathered peacock pose), I have been putting months of practice into building my upper arm strength, trying to leverage my kicks, spending endless hours against the wall and it seemed like I had made no progress. I kept thinking that I wasn’t strong enough, my control was not there and I simply couldn’t do it. Then I decided to take a risk, with no one to catch me last week; I practised pincha outside in my back garden in Ireland and it was a completely different experience to any of my attempts before. My legs went up, with control and stayed there (well for about six seconds). My entire mind frame was changed, by altering my surroundings and clearing my head, something changed within me.
Like any limitations in life, a lot of it is all in your head, rather than being an actual constraint. Once you can let go of what you think is restraining you, anything can happen. On and off the mat. So why not grab your mat, get out of your comfort zone and find some unfamiliar territory to practice in.