Have the grey days of winter been getting you down? Have you noticed new aches and pains, or tightness in your body? Would you like to improve your posture, get better sleep, feel happier, or simply find some calm in everyday life? You might try yoga, or hiking…or both!

As RHA’s Director of Education, I have led and organized many programs that bring folks into nature. In 2016 I earned my yoga teacher training from Glow Yoga in Bernardsville and was excited to find ways to combine my love of the outdoors with a yoga practice. Our new Yoga+Hike programs at Fairview Farm are just that – the perfect combination of yoga and time spent in nature!


Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is a practice (key word: practice!) of slow movements designed to bring awareness to the body, to stretch muscles, build strength, work on balance, and to link the movements of the body with the breath. While this sounds like a lot to combine into one hour, the simple, low impact movements of yoga are truly for anybody, and can be adjusted to any body.

Once you’ve practiced yoga for a few sessions, you’ll start to notice positive changes in your everyday life. Better posture, deeper breath, better sleep, and a decrease in your overall stress level!

Benefits of Time Spent Outside

Forest bathing, going for a walk, gardening, birding – whatever your favorite way to get outside – all hold great benefits. The physical and mental benefits of being outside are real – and measurable. Time spent outside breathing fresh air (especially when you’re near plants…better yet a forest) has been shown to decrease cortisol levels in the body, relax muscle tension, and decrease heart rate. Not only that, but you can also expect to have better blood flow, higher levels of dopamine, better focus, and better sleep when you spend more time outside. Both children and adults perform better on academic tests after they’ve spent just 15 minutes in nature. Put it all together and you’re in for a longer, happier life, no kidding! What is there to lose?

Taking yoga classes and going for group hikes have also been shown to increase a feeling of connection and community, and to decrease feelings of loneliness. At Raritan Headwaters, one of our main goals is to show people how we are all part of the watershed community, and all our actions affect what happens to the health of our world. Its nice to be part of a community, and it feels good to help take care of that community too.

I hope to see you outside, or at a yoga class! I would love to hear your favorite way to enjoy the outdoors, or to learn about what unexpected benefits you might be noticing. For me, I’ve noticed that the more I’m outside, the more beautiful experiences I have (like watching a flock of snow geese land in a corn field). You can always contact me with questions, thoughts, or ideas at ltheis@raritanheadwaters.org.


Want to learn more? Here are some of my favorite resources on yoga and the benefits of being in nature.

Yoga with Adriene: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

A free resource with a friendly instructor. Great for brand-new beginners or anyone that wants to cultivate a home practice of yoga. Short videos that are easy to follow!

1000 Hours Outside: https://www.1000hoursoutside.com/

A challenge I am taking part of for 2023, this is great for families, friends, or individuals.

The Wellness of the Great Outdoors: https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/wellness-benefits-great-outdoors

Why Opting Outside Matters: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-play/202210/why-opting-outside-matters