What do Yoga and Nature Have in Common?
If you love yoga and spending time in the Great Outdoors, then you probably already instinctively know that both these activities have a fantastic effect on your mood. Both are recommended by doctors and psychologists for a number of conditions – including substance abuse recovery, anxiety and depression. Yoga and nature activities have very specific effects on the body and mind, including a reduction in stress hormone, cortisol, an uplifting effect on mood, and an improvement in vitality. They have an additional benefit that is vital to health and wellness – an ability to bring us a little closer to something we often wish we could deepen: our spirituality.
Why is Spirituality so Hard to Find in the Modern World?
Philosophers and psychologists alike have pointed out the difficulty of finding spirituality in the modern world. Carl Jung noted that the ‘massification’ of cities has led people to feel small, insignificant, isolated – which is exactly opposite to how being spiritual makes us feel. Spirituality can be differentiated from organised religion in that it is a very individual yet uniting idea. It involves believing in a greater power we may not be able to grasp, but which joins us to all other people and living things.
Modern industry is not the only culprit when it comes to the elusiveness of spirituality; so, too, is our increasing distance from nature. Surveys indicate that in Australia, kids aged 12 to 13 are glued to their screens for around three hours a day; what chance do they have to be in the Great Outdoors to reap its plentiful benefits? This quote by nature author, Richard Louv, sums up what for many has become a cause for concern: “In medieval times, if someone displayed the symptoms we now identify as boredom, that person was thought to be committing something called acedia, a ‘dangerous form of spiritual alienation’ — a devaluing of the world and its creator.” Jung also felt that spirituality is not possible without nature; it is by contemplating nature’s beauty that we even realise we have spiritual needs in the first place, he says. Nature’s perfection also makes it easier to grasp the existence of a higher power, and to hold an internal dialogue that involves life’s biggest questions.
What Value does Spirituality Have for People Today?
Studies have shown time and time again that those who make time for spirituality in their lives, enjoy greater happiness. In part this is because spirituality gives us the opportunity to meet and spend time with like-minded people. More importantly, during worship/time spend in nature/ yoga/meditation, we enter into a state of mindfulness, which is immensely power in terms of reducing stress and worry, and connecting us with our inner spirituality.
To truly feel the depth of your own spirituality, yoga and the Great Outdoors are key. Yoga has many things nature cannot offer us – including its physical effects and the tenets espoused by the Eight Limbs of yoga. However, nature, too, offers us something unique: the chance to contemplate the ideals that only our most spiritual side, can aspire to.
Blog post written by Sally Write, Freelance Writer.