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4 Ways to Practice Outside + Reset Your Filter Now

Ever feel like you need a bolt of perspective? Getting outside is a good place to start.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.

Inspiration, Found: Slot Canyons


Ever feel like you need a bolt of perspective? Getting outside is a good place to start. And thanks to the Corning® Gorilla® Glass team, I’m getting some serious outside action with an epic adventure in Navajo Nation in the American Southwest. We’re here to push ourselves to the limit and capture the moments along the way. As the founder and CEO of FitFluential, a community of women dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, I love finding new ways to get inspired.

As we squeezed through narrow swaths of sandstone to get to Rattlesnake and Upper Antelope Canyons, I was relieved to have Gorilla® Glass 4 cover glass help protect my smartphone. Corning scientists dropped hundreds of devices to learn how and why glass breaks. And dropped test devices on more than 1,000 sheets of 180-grit sand paper. So, I didn’t have to worry about my phone and could focus on admiring “the place where water runs through the rocks.” For millions of years, an overflow of rainwater has flooded and gouged the canyons. Sandstone is spongy, absorbing the fluid, while drastic temperature changes break down the rock. Then the wind carves out sweeping shapes that look like massive pastel brushstrokes.

I dug out my Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ and adjusted the settings to capture the canyon’s magnificent texture and color gradations. It didn’t take much tinkering to produce surreal, postcard-worthy photos. And they were originals: Depending on the time of day and season, the sun illuminates the canyons’ contours differently. Search for #SlotCanyon on Instagram, and you’ll never “like” the same photo twice.

As I snapped perfect portraits, I realized that the forces of nature—water, wind, temperature—battering this hunk of sandstone into its sinuous form could represent the blahs of everyday life. Next time the pressure of work, relationships or unforeseen events (oh, hey, traffic jam) seized me, could I handle it… like a rock? Could I wait for the light to shift a degree or two and see the landscape through another lens? You don’t have to be anywhere near Slot Canyon to experience the same life-altering breakthroughs. These easy ways to take your practice outside are sure to shift your mindset.

See alsoMeditation Troubleshooting: 3 Ways to Prepare for Calm

4 Ways to Take Your Practice Outside

1. Impersonate the Local Landscape

As kids, being outside was all about play, something we ditched when we became “busy” adults with “important things to do.” Reclaim some whimsy and get into poses based on stuff around you. Inspired by a stately oak tree? Internalize the strength of its sturdy trunk and flexibility of its swaying upper branches and challenge yourself to hold Vrksasana (Tree Pose) for 10 or more breaths. Witness wisteria wind around a fence? It’s your turn: Wring your upper body around your spine and get centered with twists like Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) or Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose). Having fun while will remind you not to take life so seriously.

So yes I plank even on top of the slot canyons. Tough terrain but it’s how I roll y’all. #GorillaGlass4 #fitfluential #ffcheckin thanks to @techsavvymama for capturing this shot today.

A photo posted by Kelly Olexa (@kellyolexa) on Oct 22, 2015 at 5:51pm PDT

2. Point Out Props Everywhere

Anytime you’re on a walk, run or hike, you’ll see slopes, monuments, park benches, fallen logs, boulders and tree stumps. Welcome to nature’s prop closet! The only rental fee is a creative spin that puts them to good use. Use a tiny boulder as the perfect landing pad for a hand that barely grazes the ground in Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon). Find a monument? Practice your Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose) sans fear of flipping over. Or simply ground your hands on an elevated surface and play with Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose); you may lengthen your core or extend your sit bones in a way that isn’t possible (yet) on flat lands.

See alsoA Definitive Guide to Staying Present

3. Go Ahead, Stare at Something

You can stop and smell the roses, but simply looking at them may pack the benefits of an asana or meditation practice. A recent Swedish study found that viewing organic fractals in nature induced a wakeful relaxed state and inward attention. Wait, what is a fractal, anyway? They are similar or identical geometric figures combined in an infinite, chaotic pattern. The whole or a chunk of a whole would look like the individual pieces that build it; the individual piece would look like a smaller-scale version of the whole. Nature is stocked with fractals, such as trees, branches, rivers, mountains and ferns, so go gawk!

4. Multitask with a Walking Meditation

If a sitting meditation makes you sleepy or restless, get outside to mend mindfulness and movement. Before you start a walking meditation, plot out a quiet, straight path so you aren’t distracted figuring out directions and distance on the fly. Train your gaze softly at the ground several feet in front of you and take a few breaths. Once you feel centered, walk at a relaxed pace, consciously raising each foot and paying attention its arc as it journeys to the ground. Sound easy? Keeping up this attentiveness throughout the entire meditation is challenging, but you’ll cultivate concentration and focus that’ll come in handy once you’re back inside.