green exercise

green exerciseOut­door trends don’t often start in the halls of uni­ver­si­ties. Instead, they tend to be born in places like a bike junkie’s work­shop in Marin Coun­ty (where the first moun­tain bike was cob­bled togeth­er) or in the trunk of a car in Yosemite Val­ley (where Yvon Chouinard sold home­made gear that rev­o­lu­tion­ized climbing.)

How­ev­er, the next big out­door exer­cise trend orig­i­nat­ed in peer-reviewed stud­ies and aca­d­e­m­ic papers—from Oxford, Yale, Stan­ford, and MIT—full of data and graphs and med­ical ter­mi­nol­o­gy. It’s called “Green Exercise.”

Get Health­i­er and Hap­pi­er Outside
For years, we’ve been told to hit the gym for both gen­er­al health and to cross-train for ski­ing, bik­ing, or surf­ing, in effort to to off­set the mus­cle imbal­ances. But acad­e­mia is now telling us the gym isn’t near­ly as good as bring­ing the gym outside.

Phys­i­ol­o­gists at Oxford and Yale took a group of sub­jects and had them do a work­out at the gym. Then they moved the gym equip­ment to a nat­ur­al set­ting and had them do the same work­out. Researchers mea­sured indi­ca­tors of mito­chon­dr­i­al decay (the cel­lu­lar process respon­si­ble for aging) and found that the out­door work­outs bet­ter fought decay. The Stan­ford study had two groups of peo­ple walk briskly through two envi­ron­ments while mea­sur­ing their brain activ­i­ty: one through a nat­ur­al area, anoth­er through down­town Palo Alto. The park group showed more signs of cre­ativ­i­ty and relax­ation; the down­town group showed more brain activ­i­ty linked to stress and depression.

Nature is in our DNA
Researchers hes­i­tate when they’re asked why exer­cise in a nat­ur­al set­ting is bet­ter, because the research has yet to iso­late par­tic­u­lar mech­a­nisms. But Har­vard biol­o­gist Edward Wil­son sug­gest­ed that the inter­est in nature is hard-wired into our genet­ic code. Our DNA is housed in our mito­chon­dria, the part of cells that best react to exer­cise out­doors. The proof isn’t nailed down yet, but it stands to rea­son that the DNA-cen­tric part of our cells is going to be hap­pi­est in the sounds, smells, and views that resem­ble where it evolved.

Doc­tors Rec­om­mend Out­door Fitness
As uni­ver­si­ties and research hos­pi­tals take note, we may soon see major shifts in the out­door indus­try. Port­land, Ore­gon has a pilot pro­gram called PlayRx that teams up doc­tors with the parks depart­ment. Docs and phys­i­cal ther­a­pists, in addi­tion to mak­ing stan­dard med­ical pre­scrip­tions, can give peo­ple trail maps and show them where they can work­out out­doors. Parks have devel­oped “nature play” areas where kids can run around and jump on logs rather than arti­fi­cial mon­key bars.

On the Trail
As the health ben­e­fits of out­door exer­cise become more main­stream, we’ll see changes in out­door sports. Trail run­ning is stag­ing a resur­gence. You’ll see more cov­ered places to do tra­di­tion­al work­outs among fresh air and trees, a com­mon prac­tice in South Korea. Expect more portable work­out gear we can use out­side. Peo­ple stop­ping in the mid­dle of a hike to do push-ups and planks will become the norm. Fit­bits, heart-rate mon­i­tors, and apps used for out­door cross-train­ing will become more popular.

This video is the per­fect rem­e­dy for those look­ing to skip the long work­out, but are still hop­ing to unwind and de-stress, which is often times eas­i­er said than done.

This chan­nel by Tara Stiles is great because she’s easy to lis­ten to and fol­low, she’s got tons of short rou­tines for peo­ple to explore for what­ev­er one’s yoga needs are. In addi­tion, she has a series of recipe shares and she even has a new series around pre-natal yoga since she her­self is preg­nant right now.

Peace-lov­ing, free­dom-seek­ing and lib­er­al-pro­mot­ing indi­vid­u­als find seren­i­ty and inner-calm­ness while prac­tic­ing yoga. So what bet­ter way to cre­ate a cul­ture of uni­ver­sal love and free­dom through a yoga fes­ti­val. Every year var­i­ous fes­ti­vals occur through­out the world to bring togeth­er like-mind­ed yogis to cel­e­brate a cause, world peace. Expose your inner yogi through these var­i­ous fes­ti­vals this year.

afAnan­da Fest

Held in Burling­ton, Ontario, Cana­da, this fes­ti­val occurs June 7–9, 2013. This inter­na­tion­al fes­ti­val fea­tures all-lev­el class­es, spir­i­tu­al stew­dard­ship work­shops, music, med­i­ta­tion and var­i­ous healthy liv­ing sem­i­nars. The fes­ti­val is held at Camp Sidrabene and embraces fam­i­lies to explore yoga through with new fam­i­ly friend­ly programs.

tfTel­luride Yoga Festival

Locat­ed in the beau­ti­ful Tel­luride, Col­orado, this event occurs July 11–14, 2013. With a stel­lar line-up of pre­sen­ters, atten­dees are not left short­hand­ed, but filled with a  brain-ful of knowl­edge and skills. Each year 25% of the fes­ti­val’s pro­ceeds are donat­ed to a local non-prof­it whose mis­sion is to pre­serve the plan­et. This is also a green fes­ti­val; there­fore, is known as a “zero-waste” festival.

hfHanu­man Festival

Locat­ed in lib­er­al, Boul­der, Col­orado, this fes­ti­val is held June 13–16, 2013. This fes­ti­val is a cel­e­bra­tion of yoga, music and com­mu­ni­ty in the foothills of the Rocky Moun­tains to nour­ish the mind and body. Atten­dees have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear var­i­ous inspi­ra­tional talks and con­nect with nature.

f1sShak­ti / Bhak­ti Festival

Yogis have three options to attend Bhak­ti Fes­ti­val: Bhak­ti West, Bhak­ti Mid­west or Shak­ti Fes­ti­val. These fes­ti­vals embrace dance, yoga, music and human con­scious­ness. The onsite well­ness cen­ter is a place for yogis to explore heal­ing and ener­gy work when not prac­tic­ing or danc­ing. The event also includes fire cir­cles, hanu­man chal­isas and con­tin­u­ous Kir­tan music.

fsFlagstaff Yoga Festival

Occur­ring August 2–4, 2013 in Flagstaff, Ari­zona, where yogis con­nect to the beau­ty of nature and yoga. With a vari­ety of NIA, Qi-gong and yoga class­es, there is some­thing for every-body and lev­el. When not on the mat, yogis can take advan­tage of the local trails to seek free­dom and serenity.

6 Must-Read Books for YogisEvery yogi knows that yoga is more than just a series of pos­es. It’s a way to live life. From med­i­ta­tion to breath to the asana (the pos­es), there’s an entire phi­los­o­phy about how yoga affects all aspects of a per­son. This can be a con­fus­ing, and at times, daunt­ing thing to con­sid­er, so here are six yoga inspired books that’ll help clar­i­fy it all.

Still the MindStill the Mind: An Intro­duc­tion to Meditation
By Alan Watts
A com­pi­la­tion of the famous med­i­ta­tion guru’s jour­nals and famous lec­tures he deliv­ered across the coun­try, Still the Mind author Alan Watts explains, in three parts, the phi­los­o­phy of med­i­ta­tion, how to prac­tice med­i­ta­tion and how inner wis­dom grows. It’s a great short read for those that have trou­ble under­stand­ing how med­i­ta­tion works or why peo­ple meditate.

The Yoga BibleThe Yoga Bible
By Christi­na Brown
Billing itself as “the defin­i­tive guide to yoga,” The Yoga Bible fea­tures over 150 yoga pos­tures from the main schools of yoga, mak­ing it a must-have on every yogi’s book­shelf. Each pos­ture is illus­trat­ed with step-by-step instruc­tions and advice on adjust­ments for begin­ners, as well more advanced posi­tions for expe­ri­enced yogis. You’ll also find lots of great info on breath­ing tech­niques and the dif­fer­ent schools of yoga in this lit­tle gem.

Yoga and the Quest for the True SelfYoga and the Quest for the True Self
By Stephen Cope
In his auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Stephen Cope shares how yoga basi­cal­ly changed his life by show­ing him who he real­ly is. Through is per­son­al account, he demys­ti­fies the phi­los­o­phy and psy­chol­o­gy of yoga and how it relates to all of our human prob­lems, like addic­tion, depres­sion and relationships.


How Yoga WorksHow Yoga Works
By Christie McNal­ly and Michael Roach
How Yoga Works is a great choice for peo­ple who prac­tice yoga but don’t know a lot about the yog­ic prac­tice as a whole. It delves pret­ty deeply into the ratio­nale of cer­tain pos­es, breath­ing tech­niques, med­i­ta­tions and more. There’s even a bit explain­ing some of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. And it all comes pack­aged in an eas­i­ly read­able format.

Yoga AnatomyYoga Anato­my
By Leslie Kaminoff
Ever won­der how cer­tain yoga pos­es affect the phys­i­cal body? Well this is the book for you then. Yoga Anato­my shows how spe­cif­ic mus­cles respond to breath­ing and move­ment in the body and how sim­ple alter­ations can affect the effec­tive­ness of the pos­tures. Whether you’re a begin­ner to yoga or you’ve been prac­tic­ing for years, this is a must-read to under­stand exact­ly what your body is doing when you’re mov­ing through a flow.

Science of BreathSci­ence of Breath
By Yogi Ramacharaka
One of the fun­da­men­tal com­po­nents of yoga is the breath—disciplined, con­trolled breath. This kind of breath­ing is intend­ed to induce med­i­ta­tion and relax your mus­cles. In Sci­ence of Breath, Yogi Ramachara­ka talks about the impor­tance of breath­ing to both phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al wellness.

Stand Up Paddle Board YogaEvery year in fit­ness, there are new inven­tions that bring a fresh per­spec­tive to the ever-chang­ing work­out. In the last sev­er­al years, Stand Up Pad­dle Board Yoga has been one of those “fresh inven­tions.” The board is your mat, and nature is your focal point. Plus, the com­bi­na­tion of pad­dling to and from the prac­tice loca­tion pro­duces a full-body work­out all while work­ing your core to avoid falling off the board.

Stand Up Pad­dle Board sizes vary in lengths and widths, which is depen­dent upon the weight and skill lev­el of the indi­vid­ual. Typ­i­cal­ly, the novice requires a longer and flat­ter board for sta­bil­i­ty. Standup pad­dles con­tain an “elbow” in the shaft to max­i­mize effi­cien­cy with each stroke.

Whether you’re a desk jock­ey or stand­ing on a pad­dle­board, pos­ture is key to almost every activ­i­ty in life. Pad­dlers must keep toes fac­ing for­ward, feet at hip dis­tance apart, soft bend at the knees and chest upright with strong and broad shoul­ders. Sim­i­lar to rid­ing a bike, once for­ward momen­tum increas­es, so does stability.

Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga1


Bal­ance and Technique
Yoga on land ver­sus the board dif­fers great­ly.  First, the move­ment of water below the board chal­lenges the bal­ance and the frame of mind. If the board has a built in han­dle, this is known as the “Point of Bal­ance” while pad­dling and dur­ing a yoga ses­sion. When upright, keep­ing your feet in line with the han­dle and hip dis­tance apart offers a place of sta­bil­i­ty.  The points of bal­ance are always on the right and left side of the board. While incor­po­rat­ing pos­es such as war­riors and wide-legged for­ward folds, the feet are placed in a wider stance with one foot on each side of the board to remain bal­anced. This dif­fers to land yoga where the feet are in align­ment with each oth­er; how­ev­er, on the board, the more nar­row the stance the more chal­leng­ing. The greater the focus on align­ment, the more like­ly yogis may take a dip into the water.

Sec­ond, in fit­ness there are var­i­ous bal­ance chal­lenge vari­ables to progress or regress an exer­cise. These vari­ables are com­mon­ly used on unsta­ble sur­faces and the same knowl­edge is applic­a­ble to pad­dle boards. These bal­ance chal­lenge vari­ables include: con­tact point, visu­al affect, move­ment and exter­nal stimulus.

Con­tact Points
Con­tact Points refer to any­thing that sup­ports the body to remain bal­anced. On the board this may include body parts or the pad­dle. The more parts of the body that remain on the sur­face of the board, the bet­ter the bal­ance, which also makes the exer­cise eas­i­er. In addi­tion, incor­po­rat­ing the pad­dle in an exer­cise to where it touch­es the board will add anoth­er con­tact point to assist the balance.

Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga2Visu­al Affect
Visu­al Affect has a stronger effect on bal­ance than peo­ple real­ize. Yogis may incor­po­rate vis­i­bil­i­ty or focal points to aid or chal­lenge the bal­ance. The focal point con­cen­trates on one spot, which assists in bal­ance; where as watch­ing a boat speed by, chal­lenges bal­ance. The oth­er visu­al affect is vis­i­bil­i­ty. Dirty sun­glass­es or clos­ing the eyes com­plete­ly increas­es the bal­ance chal­lenge while rely­ing on the sen­so­ry organs.

Move­ment refers to the range of motion of a par­tic­u­lar exer­cise, which may incor­po­rate low or high degrees of motion, which chal­lenges the bal­ance. On the board, not only are there chal­leng­ing yoga exer­cis­es that require more move­ment, but the move­ment of the board itself adds anoth­er dynam­ic of men­tal con­cen­tra­tion and phys­i­cal control.

Exter­nal Stimulus
Exter­nal Stim­u­lus refers to any out­side force exert­ed or used dur­ing an exer­cise.  In pad­dle­board yoga, incor­po­rat­ing the pad­dle with pos­es will increase the bal­ance chal­lenge.  In addi­tion, strong wind may act as an exter­nal stim­u­lus, which cre­ates the body to want to move away from the cen­ter of grav­i­ty and bal­ance point.

Final­ly, going beyond the four walls of a room instant­ly incor­po­rates an assort­ment of views all while con­nect­ing with nature. This ‘nat­ur­al’ con­nec­tion hap­pens with­out much effort. Depend­ing on the loca­tion, yogis may pad­dle amongst var­i­ous marine life thus enhanc­ing a con­nec­tion between human and nature.

Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga3

Often times, yoga instruc­tors inform stu­dents about over­com­ing fears in var­i­ous areas of life. See­ing vast expan­sive waters may be fear­ful for the novice pad­dler or yogi; there­fore, the inte­gra­tion of the two con­cepts allows indi­vid­u­als to over­come per­son­al and aquat­ic fears.

Stand up pad­dle board yoga seems like an easy con­cept. Jump on the board, pad­dle and yoga. As with any out­door pur­suit, cer­tain skills and board mea­sure­ments are required to avoid injury and to stay upright on the board.  It is rec­om­mend­ed for novice pad­dlers to prac­tice yoga on more calm, or land-locked waters. And while SUP yoga con­tin­ues to gain in pop­u­lar­i­ty, be sure that you build your sea-legs before plung­ing in, to avoid a ‘boards up’ session.

If life is a jour­ney made up of many adven­tures, you need to be able to do three things: thrive on change, learn and appre­ci­ate the past, and look for­ward to the future. With a grass­roots begin­ning in a garage 20 years ago, sewing and sell­ing clothes suit­ed for climb­ing and yoga, prAna under­stands this bet­ter than most.

As prAna has grown, they’ve held on to the val­ues they believe in — sus­tain­abil­i­ty and being glob­al cit­i­zens – and not just incor­po­rat­ed them into their prac­tices and mate­ri­als, but aligned them­selves with like-mind­ed indi­vid­u­als like climber and prAna ambas­sador Chris Sharma.


Chris’ jour­ney has been beau­ti­ful­ly cap­tured in The Chris Shar­ma Anthol­o­gy, a vir­tu­al scrap­book span­ning 17 years of epic climbs and spir­i­tu­al growth. It got us to won­der­ing: What would your anthol­o­gy include? In what­ev­er it is you do – climb, ski, ride, swim, surf, or tri – where were you five years ago, and where do you see your­self five years from now?

We want to hear your sto­ries so vis­it us on Face­book today and share. Wher­ev­er you see your­self going, we hope it includes the mind­ful­ly-designed appar­el from prAna.

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