Whether you’re planning on hiking, surfing, or doing any sport really—yoga will only make you better at these activities by strengthening the body, building stamina, and of course, improving flexibility.
The combination of asana (yoga pose) with pranayama (breathing) helps the body in many ways. Here are some easy steps to help adapt your yoga practice and to get you ready for the outdoors!
Try a gentler approach. If you’re performing a yoga pose that increases your body temperature (like Surya Namaskara) then slow down. Don’t rush, go at a little slower pace than normal. Take two breaths rather than one.
Consider your timing. Try practicing during the early morning hours when your body and the weather are cooler. Generally, it’s a good idea to avoid practicing during the heat of the day and especially in direct sunlight. This is a sure way to overheat the body.
The third and final step is to choose yoga poses that help the body release heat, such as forward bends. We will show a few poses perfect for this. Forward bending poses physically cool down the body and help keep the mind calm. These are extremely helpful to counteract deep and more intense back bending poses.
Get out of your head and get outside, breathe some fresh air, find your inner self, and incorporate these simple yoga postures into your lifestyle. Each one of the following poses are performed by Ashtanga Yoga Instructor & Practitioner, Alejandra Uranga. She is wearing yoga apparel from her own clothing line (Ananda 108) that she co-founded. Ananda 108 recently launched their online store where they sell a variety of yoga apparel that is perfect for this summer season. Check it out at ananda108clothing.com
All of the poses pictured are part of the Ashtanga Yoga series.
Start in Samasthitih (the mountain pose).
INHALE. Bring the arms up.
EXHALE. Bend the torso forward and bring the head towards the knees.
INHALE. Lift the torso and head half way and look forward.
EXHALE. Chaturanga, jump back with your legs like a plane pose (keep the hands and toes on the floor only) but move the body lower.
INHALE. Urdhva mukha, push the chest forward, lift the head upward, straighten the arms and the thighs or knees shouldn’t touch the floor.
EXHALE. Adho mukha, lift the waist up, bring the heels towards the floor, bring the gaze towards the navel and stay here for 5 breaths.
INHALE. Jump so that the feet are in the middle of the hands, and lift the head up.
EXHALE. Bend the torso forward as shown in fig. 2.
INHALE. Lift the arms up.
1. Spread your legs to the length of your mat around 3 or 4 feet.
2. INHALE. Place the hands on the waist.
3. EXHALE. Move forward and catch the big toes.
4. INHALE. Lift the head and look forward.
5. EXHALE. Place the head on the floor if possible (if not, just try to go as low as you can and hold the position for 5 breaths).
6. INHALE. Lift the head only.
7. EXHALE. Hands on the hips.
8. INHALE. Come up and return to Samasthitih.
1. Sit on the mat with the legs straight.
2. Fold the right leg to the side touching the inner thigh with the toes, keep the left leg straight and grab the left foot (if this is not possible just take your leg as far that you can).
3. EXHALE. Try to reach the knee with the head, stay here for 5 breaths.
4. INHALE. Lift the head up, and do the same to the other side.
1. Continue on the floor in a seated position, legs straight.
2. Bend the right knee up and bring the right foot next to the right gluteus.
3. Wrap the right arm around the leg, locking the hands behind the back (if you cannot reach the hands you can take a towel or a belt and use it to help your hands together).
4. EXHALE. Try to reach the knee with the chin, stay here 5 breaths.
5. INHALE. Lift the head only and switch to do the same for the left side.
1. Stay in seated position.
2. Bring the feet together, draw the heels in to the pelvis.
3. Fold both legs to the side and open the feet with the hands to help the hips open more.
4. EXHALE. Place the chin on the floor if possible. If not go as low as possible, keeping the back straight, breathe 5 times.
5. INHALE. Sit again and do the left side.
1. Lie down on the floor or mat.
2. INHALE. Bring the legs up, place the hands on your upper back for support, try to align the shoulder, hips and feet in one vertical line, if this is to intense for you do Halasana.
3.Hold the posture for 10 breaths, and move to the floor slowly.
1. From Salamaba Sarvāngāsana, bring the legs behind the head and place the feet on the floor, toes pointing downwards.
2. Stretch your arms forward and interlace the fingers.
3. Hold the posture for 8 breaths.
4. To leave the posture you can place the hands on your back to help the torso and legs to return to the floor.
1. You can do this posture from Padmasana or lotus position in the legs. For a variation you can just cross your legs or bend your knees with the soles on the floor.
2. Bring the chest up and place the crown of the head on the floor, if your legs are in Padmasana, wrap the feet and the arms straight, hold the posture for 8 breaths.
Note: for the posture you need to be careful with the neck because it is an intense stretch. You can just place the elbows firmly on the floor next to the chest. To leave the posture you can place the arms on the floor and go down slowly.
Remember that these are postures that we recommend, but is very important that you find a teacher to provide proper guidance. Each person is different, each body is different, and we need to adapt the practice according to our necessities.
In this installment, Tony discusses society’s disconnect from our ancestral hunter-gather lifestyle, the need to completely reinvent the education system, and how to preserve children’s innate abilities.
TOJ: When I see the word “rewilding,” I picture the opening scene of the movie Last of the Mohicans where Daniel Day-Lewis is sprinting and leaping through the woods on an elk hunt. Is that how humans are supposed to be, an athletic animal in tune with nature?
Tony Riddle: In modern society, we’re basically living in these linear boxes, breathing in the same air, getting the same microbiome experience, sleeping in the same room over and over, and nothing alters. Whereas the tribal cultures that we came from are moving through a landscape that’s forever changing. They’re always uploading new sensory pathways, new sensory experiences, constantly in a state of wiring and rewiring the brain. For me, the path of rewilding is getting back to that – being present in nature and honoring a cellular system, a sensory system and a microbiome system in their natural setting.
When you start to really assess it, some people have this vision of hunter-gatherers as savages, but these are sophisticated beings, and as they move through the landscape, they become the landscape.
Tribespeople operate in these states of meditation which, when you have kids you appreciate it. I’ve studied childhood behavior in the formative years, those first years up until the age of seven. The brain is working at a certain hertz that you and I can only achieve through meditation. This is the state of Flow. It hasn’t been cultured or schooled out of them.
When I think of “rewilding” now I have a term I’m calling “rechilding.” We’ve got to try and get back to that level of frequency that tribes have managed to stretch into adulthood. I’ve tried to break down the behaviors of these tribes. I discovered Peter Gray’s work, who asked the question to 10 leading anthropologists, “What does childhood look like in nature?” From infancy through the age of 16, children play. That’s all they do, without any adult intervention, and they learn everything they need to learn about their adult environment in those first playful years. So if that’s the case, then they go into adulthood still playing and they don’t have to work to find flow states through that field of senses and the frequency that they’ve been operating in.
TOJ: In familiarizing myself with your work, I noticed that some elements are about reverse engineering the range of motion, movement chains and posture of our own selves as children, while others focus on reconnecting with a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, how do you reconcile those concepts?
“For children, it’s about preserving their wildness and their innate abilities.”
Tony Riddle: For children, it’s about preserving their wildness and their innate abilities, the stuff that you and I would have had but we went through an educational process where it’s not appropriate to move or say anything out of turn, where children are expected to just sit still in a classroom for hours on end and not share anything. But then you realize that when you go out into the world that you have to share everything, We need to show them the appropriate behaviors and not dumb them down by limiting their experience.
In those early years, we have things like physical education, but before physical education, we have play. We were all playing around, trying to understand the physicality of our body. We’re born with all the gear, we just have no idea how to use it, because our adult species doesn’t know how to demonstrate the appropriate behavior. When we go through the playful state to try to understand this system as children, we might impersonate all the animals, but now as adults, we have to go to animal flow class to relearn it.
When children go to physical education class, they’re given specialist clothing, which includes sneakers and the specialist clothes that their adult species wear. The adults model to children how tough exercise is and how brutal it is. Adults come back profusely sweating, which is absurd because imagine the hostile environments that this species has had to traverse! My DNA goes back 270,000 years to a tribe in East Africa. So imagine how hostile these environments would have been!
“Imagine the hostile environments that this species has had to traverse!”
We observe these parkour kids, they’re showing us what’s innately in us. I love hanging out with them because it’s just expanded my mind and my movement. The physicality of the human being is unbelievable, but it’s been cultured into a sedentary position at this stage because the adult population is showing a compromised, sedentary lifestyle. By the time a child reaches the age of seven, all of the observations are made – the templates for the rest of their lives. So if the adult species is compromised, then within those first six years, that’s all the child will recognize as their potential range of behavior. I call it their “Tribe of Influence.” The tribe of influence is made up of your family, your friends and your close community around you. If you’re observing all their behaviors, that just becomes your social core. It doesn’t mean it’s biologically normal, it’s just the social norm. And social norms of today are so far afield, we are doing the most horrendous things. I read a stat yesterday, since 1970, 60% of the wild animal populations are gone. We’ve managed to do that in 50 years. That’s less than one human life span. Our social norms are compromising the planet.
There’s a great term I’m plugging the moment which Peter Kahn called “environmental generational amnesia.” Every generation that’s born, it can either expand on the knowledge passed down from before, or be dumbed down further, and it only remembers where it left off. So for those 60 percent of the species that are gone, to the new generation that comes in, that’s their new norm.
“It doesn’t mean it’s biologically normal, it’s just the social norm.”
The natural human pathways from our previous generations have been forgotten in a way, but movement is just a component of it for me. It goes beyond movement. There’s a whole physical, social and spiritual animal that needs rewilding. There’s also sleep and play and nutrition and human contact, even sunlight. We’re just disconnected.
We have a D3 issue with our culture now. We’re surrounded by artificial light in artificial environments, but when we do go out in the actual environment, we cover up by wearing sunglasses, so we’re not actually absorbing any of the nutrients from the sun that we should be. Especially in the UK, people are starved of sunlight, but as soon as the sun is out, they’re wearing sunglasses. If you look at helio-therapy, the highest absorption of D3 is around the eyes. There was a study recognizing that sun exposure helped kids with TB recover, but it also found that when they put sunglasses on, they didn’t get the results.
TOJ: If you were the superintendent of a school, what changes would you make if you are in charge?
“The educational system has to be scrunched up, thrown in a bin and restarted again.”
Tony Riddle: It’s almost like the educational system has to be scrunched up, thrown in a bin and restarted again. It’s flawed and it’s not working. In countries that are trying to do something about it, in particular, Finland in Scandinavia, it’s completely different. People are starting to wake up to the fact that it’s not biologically normal to be indoors all day, it’s not biologically normal to sit down all day, it’s not biologically normal to eat processed foods. But, that’s the environment where we’re growing these young bodies and minds.
The future is unraveling at such a rapid rate with tech. My understanding is, the current iteration of the educational system will have to die because of the way that the tech world is transforming things. So what can we possibly take from the educational model of today for five years time or 10 years time, where are we actually going to be in terms of the evolution of tech?
There’s almost like a natural pendulum. It’s swinging way back over this way. Now we’ll start to explore more biologically normal ways. With my barefoot run, I’m trying to raise awareness of these issues like sustainability in the environment and I can reach a wide audience through technology.
“It comes down to small changes.”
It comes down to small changes. You can drive yourself nuts thinking, “I’ve got to do this and do this…”, but actually, there’s value in just assessing things that are in your hands, looking at what is a biological norm versus a biological extreme. If you can’t justify something, you have to let it go. Then, what you can start to do is whittle away at things that aren’t appropriate behaviors and that will improve in the next generation that is observing those behaviors.
You and I are walking around with the observations from those first six years of our lives, and then if you really unravel it, we’re walking around with the norms of our ancestors as well.
We need a different educational model. We need a schooling system based on educating kids about their fundamental needs, including movement and play, one that gets them involved in growing natural foods and learning about their own independent role within the interdependent social tribe.
We’re all unique, but we go to school and we’re taught to conform. You have to sit and do the same exams, but in a real tribal situation, there’s an interdependence of the tribe, When you have kids, you suddenly realize how important it is. I’ve got three kids and another one on the way. They’re all different. Nature didn’t design them to be the same. They’re designed to be uniquely different so they fulfill their role in our tribe. Why not nurture the fact that they are different in order to grow their individual talents at a very young age. How do I nurture their unique abilities and create the appropriate environment for them to learn and become uniquely awesome?
Stay tuned for our REWILD series featuring an in-depth discussion of Tony Riddle’s socially extreme, yet biologically normal practices.
Part 1, Tony Riddle: Introducing REWILD
Part 2, REWILD with Tony Riddle: Children and Education
Part 3, REWILD with Tony Riddle: Transforming Your Body
Part 4, REWILD with Tony Riddle: Barefoot Running Across Great Britain
Feature Image: Tony’s daughter working on her grip strength in Tony’s studio.
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