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3 Ways to Align Your Practice With Nature

Canadian teacher Eoin Finn offers poses, intentions, and practices to help you tune into the rhythms of the planet. (Savasana in a hammock? Yes, please!)

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By Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman

In honor of Earth Day, we thought: Who better to help us bring our yoga practice a little closer to nature than Eoin Finn, the Canadian yogi and founder of the Blissology philosophy of happiness who believes that getting outside is the secret to health, love and well, bliss.

Finn is on a mission to plant 100 trees between now and April 26th (in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day). Here are a few more of his favorite ways to get a little greener, in and out of the yoga studio:

Yoga Journal: How can a yogi better align his or her yoga practice with nature?

Eoin Finn: There are so many ways. One of my favorites is to make what I call a “nature appreciation mandala” (a geometric shape that represents harmony) in the practice space. I know in our Blissology School we ask each person in the class to bring one beautiful object from nature to assemble in the yoga room, which celebrates our connection both to nature and to community.

Another of my favorite ways is to think and bring awareness of how interconnected we are to nature during the practice; to feel with our hearts and not just our minds that every breath is an intimate exchange with the trees, plankton and leafy plants; to feel that every drop of blood, sweat and tears come from the ocean. In emergencies, half of our blood can be replaced with saline, which is salt water.

YJ: Are there any specific poses that can help us get more in touch with nature?

About 30 to 40 percent of the poses are named after animals, so our connection to nature was something inherent to the yogis. However, I am inclined to say the slower, more sattvic ones are best; ones where we don’t have to work hard to resist gravity. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good arm balance or a challenging standing pose, but the more we relax, the easier it is to feel our connection to all of life.

Pigeon Pose, Paschimottanasana, Baddha Konasana are good ones, preferably supported if you are tight. Pranayama and meditation time are super conducive to feeling our connection with the energy of the natural world. The mack daddy “get in touch with nature” pose is, of course Savasana. If I had my way, everyone in the world would do Savasana in a hammock! I started a movement called hammock enlightenment and I believe that the best thing we can do for our health is to get under a tree, relax, breathe, and open up to the energy of the sky.

YJ: How can getting more in tune with nature open us up to love?

Love is a force that blurs the line between where we end and others begin. It allows us to sacrifice some of our own pleasures and desires for the well-being of another. Ego does just the opposite. It hardens the line between where we end and where others begin. It disconnects us from how we affect others and keeps us focused on our own needs. When we are in the presence of something truly beautiful in nature, whether it be the night sky, an ancient tree, the seemingly infinite ocean horizon, we feel so small. This smallness means that we are not trapped inside our own egos anymore. We are a part of nature and not apart from it. In this process of shrinking the ego, we sense not just at the head level but at the heart level that there is a joyous interconnection between us and all life. In this process a profound love awakens. What I have learned is that by seeking stillness in nature our deepest heart becomes clear.