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Essay

Outdoor yoga

By Tan Ying Zhen

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Do you practice yoga? Is your practice usually indoors or outdoors?

I'd always thought of yoga as an indoor activity. Since I first started doing yoga a few years ago, I've practiced in places with and without air conditioning, but never outdoors.

So I was surprised to see more yogis in Singapore venturing outdoors. In the past few years, there has been an increasing number of pop-up yoga events held in parks and other outdoor locations such as rooftops. There are also regular morning and evening classes held in the Central Business District. Some classes even have a lovely view of the Marina Bay waterfront.

Recently, I spoke to Nithiya, a young lady who last year started an initiative called Free Yoga in Little India. The sessions are held on an empty plot in Little India, and anyone is welcome to join for free. All you need is a yoga mat.

"Yoga is about being comfortable with the elements, so it makes sense to practice outdoors," Nithiya told me. "In the earliest days, yogis didn't even have any mats. Having your feet on the ground makes you feel more grounded and connected."

Other outdoor yoga instructors told me about the many benefits of practicing outdoors. The air is fresh, and in the early morning and evening, it isn't even that hot or humid. Outside of the confines of a studio space, participants interact more with one another, and the mood is more casual and friendly. There aren't any mirrors, so yogis are less distracted by the reflections too.

What about the insects and outdoor noise? Wouldn't that make it harder to concentrate? Apparently not. All we need is insect repellent or some essential oil spray to keep the bugs away. Also, all the yoga instructors I spoke to said that yoga is not just a physical, but also a mindful exercise. So having some noise is actually great for improving focus.

One said: "The studio is a very controlled environment. When you are outside, you can't control many things. So you learn to draw positive energy from the environment instead."

I enjoy sunshine and outdoor activities, so I was tempted to join an outdoor class. But I was also a little hesitant. Would I feel self-conscious practicing yoga in a public outdoor space, in clear view of anyone walking by? The thought made me uncomfortable.

Some wise words from a yoga instructor popped up in my head. "Saying you can't do yoga because you are not flexible is like saying you can't shower because you are not clean."

So I shouldn't think that I can't do yoga outdoors because I'll feel self-conscious. Perhaps it is precisely because I'll feel self-conscious that I should venture out of my comfort zone, and embrace that which makes me uncomfortable.

屋外ヨガ

シンガポールでは、公園やビルの屋上など、屋外でヨガを楽しむ人が増えてきている。筆者も数年前からヨガをしているが、屋外ヨガには魅力を感じつつも、少し躊躇してしまうそうだ。

The Japan Times ST: June 16, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2017年12月15日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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