mobile menu link

Connecting With the Ground

How exercising in nature enhances your health and happiness
author picture

Connection is a key principle that sits at the heart of Animal Flow. As Flowists, we seek to find ever-growing levels of quality connection–to our bodies, our minds, each other, and the world around us. Due to the almost inescapable demands on our time and attention these days, that’s not always easy.

We’re glued to devices that relentlessly ‘ping’ at us every time an email, text or DM drops into one of the many inboxes attached to our names. The quickening pace of technological advancement has become the defining feature of the age we live in and, as a result, we’re both more and less connected than ever before.

Simply shutting down your laptop and stepping outside into the natural world can do much to counteract the ails of a life lived online. And it’s the perfect complement to your Animal Flow practice.

The benefits of moving in nature

“Practicing Animal Flow in nature can be one of the most amazing and rejuvenating experiences,” says Master Instructor Freddy Satizabal from Miami, FL, USA. “Whether it’s a beautiful beach in the Bahamas or even just the turf in your apartment building, moving outdoors always seems to create a special practice.”

Regional Leader, Edita Tarvydaite, finds Flowing outdoors gives her a sense of freedom.

There’s nothing quite like the sensation of taking your shoes off and letting your feet sink into the earth. In fact, exercising in nature helps to reduce stress and anxiety while improving self-esteem, mood and memory. It also has the ability to leave you feeling mentally and emotionally exhilarated, not exhausted. Anderson Chan, Regional Leader from Hong Kong, has certainly found this to be true.

“I really prefer Flowing outdoors,” he says. “It gives me the enjoyment of moving around with freedom, not to mention the fresh air, the warm/cool breezes, the lovely sunshine and refreshing raindrops. I’m a nature lover and I’m very happy to be part of it when I am doing my favorie exercises. I feel energized; it gives me a sense of connection to Mother Nature.”

Moving mindfulness

Research has shown that physical activity conducted in nature also encourages your brain waves to move into a meditative-like state. “When I’m practicing AF in nature, it’s like I’m practicing mindfulness,” explains Anderson. “I have the same level of concentration. I’m engaging all my senses, from sight to hearing to touch. I’m not only aware of what I’m about to touch but when and how I’m going to touch it.”

Freddy Satizabal agrees. “The reality of training outside is that we came from these places; our cells, our anatomy evolved alongside nature and whatever we do outside will connect us deeper to our practice and ourselves.”

Check out this outdoor Flow from Regional Leader, Chao K Zang, from Shanghai, China.

Three tips for Flowing outdoors

Regional Leader, Edita Tarvydaite, from London, UK shares some insights on setting yourself up for a successful outdoor session.

1. Surface
Find a forgiving surface that’s free from rocks, sticks or other obstacles.
“Grass is my favourite surface. It’s the kindest to my hands and feet, I also feel more grounded. I’m not a fan of concrete surfaces but if I have to go with it, I’ll look for a basketball or tennis court.”

2. Flow buddies
Feeling nervous about Flowing outside on your own? Recruit a friend or family member.
“If I’m Flowing with someone else, it’s like a completely different experience. It feels like nothing else exists–just the person I’m moving with and the Flow we’re building together.”

3. Have a plan
If you’re hyper-aware of the presence of other people around the space, have a plan.
“If I’m in a public place and there are people around, I can sometimes struggle to find my flow state on my own. My solution for this is to have a plan, which is where Flows from On Demand or homework tasks from the Certified Instructors Facebook group become my go-to resources. I can just watch them on my phone and follow along.”

Looking for other nature-loving Flowists in your area? Our Community Groups on Facebook are the perfect place to connect with likeminded movers. Join a Jam, find an instructor or sign up for a workshop in your area.