By Mari Krueger
Two huge trees branched overhead as Ivie Cornwell climbed the stairs to her second-floor yoga studio. Their limbs were lush with glossy, green leaves.
“It was a beautiful day, and I couldn’t help but be amazed at the color, beauty and grandness of the trees,” she said.
A few days later, Cornwelll was surprised to see a change—both trees lost leaves, and their color dulled.
“I caught myself thinking, ‘what happened to those trees?’” she said. “Clearly there was a transformation.”
The difference made her think about the transformation she sees in herself as she practices. In yoga, “there’s a consistent transformation happening on the mat, whether it’s physical, mental or spiritual,” she said. “Often, the change is subtle and can take you off-guard.”
The benefits of regular exercise—both physical and mental—are well known. As seasons change, it’s a great time to evaluate what’s working in an existing exercise routine, or jumpstart a routine that’s slacked off (or fallen victim to summer break). Cornwall, who has practiced yoga for over a decade and teaches or practices (often both) every day, recommends invigorating your exercise routine by taking it outside. Even getting near a window can help bring that transformation into your own practice. Exercise, restful sleep, good nutrition, and getting out into nature create a powerful combination for optimizing health.
“We often don’t take, get, or have opportunities to stand still outside and take in the details that make nature magical,” she said. “With yoga, we have still poses that allow us to observe; we have poses that give us new perspectives.”
Day-to-day life might not usually include a chance to go outside and put your head near your leg and look up, but try a trikonasana pose and admire the clouds. A simple yoga practice can be a single down dog, a sun salutation, even breath work or savasana. What’s important is taking those opportunities to be in nature, breathe, and clear your mind. Observing the natural world adds a layer of richness and calm to the experience.
“The mat is a place with less distraction, which allows you to observe the subtler changes we don’t notice during the day,” she said. “The trees will obviously change again and give a new perspective. With yoga, you get new insights and perspectives on the mat. The ebb and flow is constant—just like nature.”