Outdoor Sports and Spirituality

At NAQAG we are always interested in hearing about the positives of an active outdoor lifestyle. Recently, a VICE article caught our eye on Why Are Surfers so Chill? How Surfing Impacts Mental Health.

The premise of the article is a study published in Qualitative Health Research. The abstract claims there have been many studies looking at the benefits of physical activity, but few specifically looking at nature-based physical activity.

In Another study, quoted in the VICE article, surfers described surfing as a hybrid of meditative and athletic experience.

To us at NAQAG, this sounded like many of the outdoor activities we love: hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding. This description of a hybrid of meditative and athletic experience rung true as quite the insight. This is because it describes another ancient method of spiritual insight: yoga.

It is not correct to think of yoga as a series of poses one performs in a series for spiritual benefit. The word yoga means “yoking” – describing the process of reflecting on ones true self. The process of which can be metaphorically described as looking at your reflection in a pond. If there is turmoil and chaos on the surface, it is hard to see the reflection of your true self. But if it is calmed, then the water becomes clear and reflects like a mirror.

This is where the physical activity comes in: through physical activity the body and mind become calm. Studies such as the one mentioned above suggest that this activity outdoors may increase its effectiveness. It just so happens that most of the things we do outdoors happen to also clear and focus the mind and leave us time for this introspection.

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