Yoga has been a part of my life for a few years now. And I was superexcited when a few teachers in my hometown began taking their classes outside, weather permitting. Hanne from FlowFabrik was one of the first ones. She tells me, why taking your Yoga practice outside allows an even deeper flow.
The air is still warm from the summer heat. Birds are singing. The town at our feet is starting to glow in the the evening sun. We are gathering on a grass covered terrace on a hill to the north of Winterthur, where Hanne Mogensen, a yoga teacher who has moved from Denmark to our tiny town in Switzerland, is about to start one of her Outdoor Yoga classes. Outdoor Yoga is to be taken quite literally in her case: we practice yoga outdoors: in a park, on the grass surrounding a public swimming pool, deep in the forest, or as is the case this fine evening, in the meadow next to an old farm on a hill. Hanne starts her class slowly with a little meditation. “We are not only going to work-out”, she says, “but also to work-in.” And she adds: “I know that sounds a littly kitschy. But yoga not only trains your muscles and your body but also your mind.”
We sit cross-legged in the cool, freshly mowed grass, a cool wind blows. Birds still sing, insects buzz, a cat strolls curiously between the yoga students mats. The buzz of the city and daily life slowly disappears up here. “Nature is healing”, says Hanne. “Something as simple as a walk can help to clear your head and re-find your balance when you are stressed, angry or sad.” Yoga, she finds, has a similar effect. “And if you combine the effects of Yoga and Nature, you can double that impact.”
Hanne has started her outdoor yoga classes on this little piece of paradise, before also offering classes in other outdoor spaces around town. “I found this beautiful land by chance during one of my walks. I spontaneously asked the owners, whether I could offer yoga classes here. I could.”
Yoga according to Hanne is not something separate from daily life, that has to take place in a so designated place, even though she does offer regular classes in two studios in town. But she keeps experimenting with new locations to practice. Outdoors. In a museums. In combination with a vegan brunch after the class.
Similarly she is of the opinion that yoga is for everyone always. When one of the participants in said outdoor class shows up in jeans, because she spontaneously decided to join her friend, Hanne welcomes her. “If the cloths don’t hinder your movement, of course yoga can be practiced in whatever you happen to be wearing. Even jeans.”
Back outside we are working on balancing postures. The uneven ground is an added challenge, the mind keeps thinking that if one only moved the mat a little further to the left there might be less bumps, there might be less loose leaves cluttering the mat, there might be an easier spot to find one’s flow. It is another humbling lesson outdoor yoga has in store for us: to accept our surroundings how they are, immerse ourselves with them and work with what we are given.
Disclaimer: The article represents my personal opinion and experience of classes with Hanne. I have been going to Hanne’s yoga classes for a few years now, and some months ago, she asked me to be a Flowfabrik-Ambassador, which means I talk about her work and yoga philosophy on my online channels a bit more often than I do about others.
Also: Check out her classes and events she schedules regularly on www.flowfabrik.ch. And for those reading from outside of Switzerland: Hanne teaches in English and has a Youtube channel with free online yoga classes.