I love to be warm. I also love to have the feel of fresh air on my skin. As much of my skin as possible, while staying firmly on the non-naturist side of the camp. (How do naturists even do it in Ireland? Or are they only naturist for a handful of days in the year?)
This love of the heat creates problems for the fate of my pale Irish skin when I take it for adventures in sunnier climes. It also proves problematic at home. I swear if my husband and I every break up, the climactic fight will be precipitated by a quarrel over the heating button, him wearing shorts and a t-shirt and me in winter thermals.
In September, we moved house, first from Dublin to Leitrim, then from Leitrim to Sligo. If Ireland has an international reputation for rain, then the northwest holds the wet weather prize within the country (there has to be some drawback to our lovely rolling hills of green).
One reason we wanted to move was to get into the countryside more. After 5 years of apartment living, I wanted to find a way to live a greater part of my day outdoors. I knew that this meant making the effort to get outside, embrace the weather and learn to live with it.
If I could get a brief yoga practice in every day, then surely it meant that life outdoors was not only possible but pleasurable? So followed the yoga outdoors experiment.
Experiment: To take my yoga practice outside, every day for 10 days, whatever the weather, in mid-October.
Results: I discovered it is possible. Yoga outdoors in Ireland. In October! Shorter practices work best, with a dynamic warm up to get things moving. Even on the days where I only got a couple of poses outside, I loved the feeling of air on my skin, bird-song reaching my ears, while I tuned into the breath. Clothes are important to think about though (how do those Irish nudists manage?).Light thermals that retain some heat, while still allowing movement, are best. Meditation outside can be very calming, but only in a decent warm, rainproof jacket. And you’ve got to have a cosy space to come indoors to, and a cup of tea.
Day by Day
Day 1. I stood on a rock on the banks of a river. For a very brief standing series in some gentle rain. Loved the sense of connection between bare feet and hard rock, but felt somewhat limited in the poses I could do. I sat in meditation for a few minutes listened to the river and congratulated myself for the foresight to bring a travel mug filled with tea for after.
Day 2. Brief ( a trend developing here) standing sequence in the woods, sneaked in under the older boy’s radar while he played with sticks and stones. Killing a few birds with one stone here. Baby in the carrier, boy getting his outdoor time too. Winning.
Day 3. Yoga in the kitchen before anyone else was up (unheard of!). There was a storm on the way, so only a brief headstand outside. Felt energised and alive upside down as the energy of the rising wind swirled all around.
Day 4. Tried to sneak in a few poses while out for a walk with the toddler. Multitasking= Ardha Chandrasana while digging up the ground with a small stick while talking to the boy while keeping an eye on baby asleep in the buggy. Yoga with kids is more exhausting than a Bikram yoga class, but with less sweat and more drool.
Day 5. Yoga outside with baby on mat wrapped up in a blanket (ah the days when I could place baby on the mat and he was happy to giggle up at me kicking his legs. Now he is either making a beeline for the cat food/door/older boys toys or complaining loudly until I pick him up and walk him around the house).
Day 6. No yoga as such, but a 10-minute beach meditation more than made up for it. Less yoga pants on a tropical beach at sunset and more winter raincoat on a blustery cove. Followed by cosy fireside yoga once the small people were in bed.
Day 7. More mum and baby yoga. This time with baby wrapped up in a snowsuit. Practice was interrupted, not by the weather, but by an aggressive two-year-old with a shovel.
Day 8. Rainy and stormy. Unapologetically remained indoors all day today. It’s about balance folks..
Day 9. Upside down practice outside. Handstands at the wall. Preparing for life being upside-down while other half is away for a while working!
Day 10. Yoga in the garden while baby napped. Two-year-old insists on sitting on my back in a number of poses, tracks muddy footprints all over my mat. But I am outside. I am doing yoga. In October.
Next stop naked outdoor yoga. There’s probably a class being planned somewhere as I write…