Ready to Try Outdoor Yoga?
It’s true that fitness requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance, but we firmly believe it doesn’t require a gym membership, expensive equipment, or personal trainers. When you think of fitness efforts outside of the gym, outdoor activities like yoga probably aren’t the first thing that comes to your mind. However, this ancient practice will be highly complementary to your current fitness regimen and you don’t have to join a yoga studio to reap the benefits!
Benefits of Outdoor Yoga
Scroll through Instagram and you’ll see an infinite number of yogis posing on a sunny beach or balancing on windswept mountaintops. Not all of us are lucky enough to live on the coast or amidst a scenic mountain range, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your yoga practice outdoors.
Your surroundings don’t have to be Instagram-worthy for a good workout!
At the base of every yoga practice is awareness, stillness, and pranayama (breathwork). Nature influences your ability to cultivate mindfulness on and off the mat. As you become more in tune with your body and emotions, nature heightens all of your senses and your yoga routine becomes a beautiful, cathartic process.
The sun warming your muscles makes you more flexible and helps you to get deeper into your poses. Balancing in tree pose, as you listen to the breeze rustling the leaves nearby, gracefully elevates your sense of stillness.
Practicing on sand, grass, or even water (SUP yoga) works muscles you don’t use when you’re practicing in a studio or at home. Uneven or shifting surfaces require more core work, which means your stubborn middle section will become toned more easily and you will feel stronger quickly. Doing yoga on flat surfaces also builds the secondary muscles in your feet, knees, spine, shoulders, and hips!
Outdoor Yoga Tips
Mat or No Mat?
The biggest concern yogis have when practicing outside is whether they should use a mat or not. Honestly, there’s no right answer. Some yoga students are completely attached to their mat, while others prefer to ditch it at home and head outside with nothing but sunscreen and water.
Certain surfaces will be more comfortable with a mat, but many yogis believe it’s easier without a mat when you’re practicing on grass or sand. If you’re going for a hike with plans to stop along the way for a yoga break, definitely bring a mat to protect your hands and knees from rocks.
If you’ve never done yoga outside, getting used to an uneven surface can be tricky. The first time I did yoga on a beach, I felt like a newborn foal. I thought I’d strike an arm balance in the surf for my Instagram page, and when the waiter took the sand out from under me, I went down like a sack of rocks right on my nose!
Start with solid and familiar poses, such as sun salutations and a strong standing sequence, until you get a feel for the surface you’re practicing on.
Outdoor yoga isn’t much different than any other outdoor activity. You should apply sunscreen beforehand and if you’re using your mat it’s beneficial to use a sunscreen that’s non-greasy. Placing a yoga towel on top of your mat will keep you from sliding around and insect repellent is also a good idea if you’re in a wooded area.
Finally, have plenty of water on hand. Even if you typically skip water during class to build heat, you’ll experience more heat than usual when you’re under those gorgeous rays of sunshine for an hour or two.
If you need a change of pace from your regular practice or you want to get outdoors more often, pack your mat and towel, and get outside!
Head to the park, your favorite hiking spot, or the beach to see how Mother Nature can mold and inspire your yoga practice.
Need more motivation? Whether performing outdoor yoga or yoga in a studio, check out these amazing benefits of yoga when it comes to losing weight – put together by our friends over at somuchyoga.com.