Do you love being outdoors? Have you ever thought about outdoor yoga for a change of scenery from your usual practice area?
More and more yoga lovers are heading outdoors during the spring and summer months to make the most of the weather. But be warned, there is a very good chance you will not want to go back inside to practice once you have tasted outdoor yoga!
Under the sky
For a long time I put myself off the idea, because I told myself that I needed to be in my own ‘private space’ where I could control my environment. The idea of being on display whist practicing my asana’s was incredibly off putting because I knew I would have trouble concentrating if I felt that I was making a spectacle of myself and people were staring at me.
Eventually I plucked up the courage to give it a try and having experienced the freedom of meditating in various outside locations, there is no looking back for me. I now have a few favorite spots depending on weather and time constraints
I discovered that it is a shame to confine oneself to practicing indoors when you could be enjoying the experience and freedom of taking your yoga outside and connecting in a natural environment.
Here are some tips that will help you to get the most out of your al-fresco yoga!
Choose Your Spot
Gardens are good. You can’t get much more local than your own garden. Don’t fret though if you are gardenless. The park, the beach, a quiet woodland spot. All would provide a very different experience and add a whole new dimension to your yoga practice.
Remember though that you are going to have less control over your environment when you are outdoors. Heat, noise and other disturbances all come into play. Relax and keep on going. They are all part of being outside whatever you are doing.
I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of a beach and right through the summer months I head down early to avoid the crowds. I can practice my asanas with the sand between my toes. The sound of the waves and wind is incredibly relaxing and takes my meditation to a whole new level.
It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right spot and suss out the best time of day to visit it, but persevere. If your first attempt does not go to plan, then keep on trying. I promise you it’s worth it!
Embrace the Weather
Combining your yoga with sunshine feels amazing. It almost goes without that it is important to protect yourself, particularly if you are going to be outside for a long period.
Be prepared. Wear appropriate clothing to suit the temperature and use sunscreen. Take plenty of water with you. Don’t over do your session. Two tips – I like to take a small towel in my bag to dry my face with if I become too hot and sweaty.
On a really hot day, a shaded area underneath a tree or in the shade of a building is a good plan. The sound of the wind blowing through the branches above your head and the dappled light is quite wonderful.
Flies, mosquitoes and other insects can potentially be a huge distraction when practicing yoga outside. Holding your pose with an irritating fly buzzing around your head or worse still landing on you, can throw you right off and make it impossible to retain your focus.
Insect repellent and an accepting attitude towards smaller species than ourselves is what you need. Again it is finding what works for you and also what you can tolerate.
Enjoy the Fresh Air
Breathe deeply. Filling your lungs with fresh air whilst working on your breathing technique makes you feel invigorated and alive, a wonderful change to a stuffy inside space. Leave the air con behind and luxuriate in the rich air.
Shoes are OK but… the contact of the sand, grass or soil under your bare feet awakens your senses and helps you to feel more grounded and connected with the earth. Tip – you may want to carry a packet of wet wipes with you to wipe your feet and freshen up once you have finished!
It may not be necessary to take a yoga mat with you at all – particularly if you plan to exercise with nothing on your feet, as this will only create a barrier between you and the earth. Beach yoga is particularly nice with no mat and likewise grass is great for stretching out on. Find what you prefer.
Why not give it a shot. The only way you can discover whether something works for you or not, is to try it out for yourself. The majority of us spend far too many hours of each day confined within four walls so surely it makes sense to embrace the freedom of having no walls or ceiling when we reach for the sun!
Take time to adjust to practicing outdoors. Maybe go with friends or try on your own whichever you feel most comfortable with. The main thing is to remember that if it doesn’t work out perfectly the first time then don’t give up! Just think how many wonderful picnics you have had or pleasant walks whilst there’s always the odd occasion when you get stung, lost, ants in your sandwiches or chased by cows. That doesn’t stop you going on picnics or for country walks, right?
Outdoor yoga is the same. It is a world with no thermostats, air con switches, perfectly flat surfaces and windless calm. Embrace your outdoor space instead of shying away from it. Soon you will find a place or places where you can unwind in harmony with nature.
Go Outdoors. Be Outdoors
Find your spot. Somewhere you can relax and connect with nature. Don’t worry if it just your back garden and not the deserted beach or cliff top you dream of. Wherever you go don’t be surprised if you don’t want to go back into the studio!
Guest Post by Felix Marsh
Felix Marsh is a member of the Utopian Retreats team. They have a luxury eco-retreat in La Finca Paradiso, Spain. You will find everything you need for creative, corporate or spiritual courses and amazing private holidays with your family and friends in a stunning location.