So many asanas reflect nature or animals, and that is no coincidence. These poses help you to connect more deeply and be in harmony with nature, time, and the universe. By practicing yoga outside you can intensify your experience and take advantage of the elements!
Practicing outside might remind you of an amazing yoga retreat you’ve been on, or keep you on target while you’re saving for your next one. However, being outdoors means there are a few things you need to keep in mind that you might not think about when you’re in the yoga studio space, or at home.
Here are our top tips for moving your yoga practice outside:
Think about the evenness of the surface
A slightly uneven surface can help to strengthen your feet, hips, knees, and spine and help you to focus on your balance, but it’s important that it’s not too much of a slope or too uneven. This can lead to strain on certain parts of your body, especially your ankles and wrists. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid an uneven surface, but you will need to work with poses that cater to or benefit from the ground you’re practicing on.
Don’t avoid uneven surfaces altogether but you will need to work with poses that cater to or benefit from the ground you’re practicing on.
Avoid a surface that’s too soft
One of the best places to practice yoga outside is at the beach. Practicing with the sound of the ocean and the smell of the sea breeze is a great way to feel at one with the world. But the sand can add to or hinder your practice. Wrists and heels can dig into the soft sand and put pressure on your wrist or ankle bone. It’s better to practice on firm sand, rather than soft, and avoid too many downward dog poses.
The same can be said for soft grass, so do a few tests with your heels before you set up on the ground.
Mat, no mat, or towel
Depending on the ground, a mat could slip or bunch and cause you to lose balance, or worse, injure yourself during practice. When you practice yoga outside it’s better to use something that will cling to the ground and can be easily washed, like a towel or beach mat.
Is it also possible to practice outside with no yoga mat or towel, at all. Whether you use a yoga mat or towel at all is part personal preference and part dependant on the surface you’re practicing on. If you’re practicing under a tree or on a forest floor with leaves or needles then a towel will be useful, if it’s a rocky surface then a mat may be the best option, unless you can find a large flat rock.
Work with the time of day
Consider the time of day that you practice yoga outside, dependent on where you are. If it’s sunny, wear sunblock and avoid direct sunlight if possible, or have a short practice so that you don’t get sunburnt. Practice in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler and the sun is less harsh.
If it’s cooler outside then you might want to practice when it’s warmer nearer the middle of the day or at least layer on more clothing than you normally would for indoor practice.
Remember we share the outdoors with other critters, so you might want to consider the bug situation where you intend to practice. If it bothers you, either wear repellent, or practice at a time of the day when there are fewer bugs around.
Most outdoor yoga practice takes place in the sun and in warm climates, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Getting sunstroke or heatstroke won’t enhance your practice in any way. Don’t forget to take your water bottle with you when you head down to the beach!
Find somewhere with natural sounds and skip the music
Practicing yoga outside is all about making the most of what’s naturally available to you. Skip the music and listen to what’s around you instead. Practice near the ocean, or near trees where you can hear the birds. It’s a good idea to scope out the area before you decide to practice there, and it’s necessary if you intend to lead a class in the outdoors so that you know what to expect.
Practice balancing poses
The outdoors is a great place to practice balancing asanas. The ground can be slightly more uneven than inside, and you can feel a better connection to the earth when you practice directly on it. If you want to try headstands and handstands, then a softer grass surface is better to fall on than a hard wood surface inside a studio.
Embrace the elements, don’t fight them
The conditions don’t need to be perfect for you to take your yoga practice outside, instead, you can learn to embrace the elements rather than fighting them. The sun can remind you to deepen your poses with its warmth, and the breeze can help you to focus on your breathing.
Take your time
If you’re in the zone and feel like staying in an asana for longer, then go ahead. The outdoors is a great place for meditating, and it can be easier to feel mindful, connected and relaxed than an indoor space. The sound of the ocean or the birds can calm your mind in a way that music might not.
Practicing outside takes you away from the yoga scene of the studio, with its mirrors and designed effects. It gives you the freedom to be able to look up at the sky and feel the expansion of your soul and your practice, in a way that you just can’t replicate inside the studio.
Want to have the most amazing outdoor yoga experience? Check out our yoga retreats today for options with outdoor yoga practice areas and opportunities to practice on the beach or on a paddle board!