How to connect to nature in your wellbeing practice
As a yoga and meditation teacher, I’ve been in the wellness world for a long time. I dread to think how many downward-facing dogs this body has breathed through. By connecting with my inner world, I’ve released bucket-loads of trauma, changed my life and relationships completely, and meditated to places of blissful stillness.
But I’ve come to realise one important thing – for real, full-bodied wellbeing, we need to step outside and develop a closer, more connected relationship with nature.
We’ve all found a whole new level of appreciation for nature in the pandemic. Nature is a teacher and a healer. And it’s about far more than just notching up our daily step count -taking a simple walk through the park engages us on a physical, psychological, social and even spiritual level.
With beauty and life around us, we’re better able to notice how we feel. A pattern in a cloud, the softness of grass or the steadiness of a tree can all facilitate healing and personal development – far more than any yoga class.
The lost seasons
The changing seasons offer a powerful opportunity to reflect and grow. Most of us have lost touch with the rhythms of the seasons. Our online culture, indoor lifestyles, and the effects of globalisation cut us off from the way nature would shape our lives, and from what the seasons used to mean. This can send our health out of sync in so many ways – from sleep and nourishment to impacting our heart rates, blood pressure and hormones. It can also cause stress, dislocation, and feeling lost and ungrounded.
How do we reconnect with nature?
Take inspiration from ancient practices, when people carried out ceremonies and rituals in line with the solar and lunar cycles.
The Wheel of the Year is a series of Pagan festivals to mark the solar events – the summer and winter solstices, spring and autumn equinoxes, and their midpoints. They were an opportunity to express the deep relationship of people to their environment in a way which was radically life-affirming. Indigenous cultures all understood something we are trying to remember; how to live in innate connection with nature. How to feel truly alive and truly ‘human’.
With solar festivals happening every six weeks, the next opportunity to realign is never far away.
How does it work?
Ceremonies are a natural way to connect with the awe we feel when we are able to sense something greater than ourselves. Along with breathing, meditation and yoga, we can find our own, modern expression of seasonal living. We can harness the unique qualities of each season to achieve personal growth and transformation within our lives.
Each ceremony has its own unique rituals but all can include elements of:
- Writing, reflection and intention, looking at what has happened in the previous season and reconnecting with what feels important.
- Exploring traditional customs – what they used to mean, and how that meaning can be reinterpreted for us now.
- Movement practices to support the body and its varying levels of energy – more energetic in the spring/early summer, and more restorative in the autumn/winter.
- Taking long country walks and noticing the signs of the changing seasons, connecting with all the living beings we share our world with.
- Inner transformation practices and symbolic rituals.
- Breathing exercises and meditations to tune in to the subtle shifts in how we feel and bring the body and mind back into alignment.
- Song, dance and celebration.
How do we join in?
At our eco-wellbeing platform As We Live & Breathe we create a space for seasonal ceremonies. Over cosy zoom sessions, we share these solar ceremonies as well as monthly full and new moon ceremonies and other nature-based wellbeing practices.
While they are online, they’re really not about being stuck in a studio or in our homes on a call. They’re about integrating seasonal living and nature back into our daily lives and include all kinds of rich and powerful practices which get us into our bodies, out onto the land, and deeply immersed in practical, real-life connection with the seasons.
Join Natalie and As We Live & Breathe in ceremony. Their next event marks Spring Equinox on 21st March 2021. To join, visit here.