5 Tips for Practicing Yoga Outdoors

by | Updated: May 18th, 2020 | Read time: 3 minutes

The lure of nature comes on strong this time of year. Trees get greener. The air gets sweeter. You don’t have to pile on the layers, which makes you freer, your movements more fluid.

Woman Practicing Yoga Outdoors | Vitacost.com/Blog

It’s a terrific opportunity to shake up your yoga practice by taking it outdoors. Revel in the seasonal shift toward warmth by committing to a new habit. Different surroundings spark mental and physical changes for the better. But first, consider five key factors:

1. Pick the right environment

Yoga is about adapting to circumstances and challenging ingrained reactions. But it’s not very pleasant, or good for your health, to practice outside while industrial lawn mowers blare or cigarette smoke wafts your way. Some locations make more sense for practice than others. Find a place where you won’t be abruptly interrupted and will breathe clean air.

2. Choose an appropriate foundation

The beach is fabulous for practicing yoga. Sort of. The air is great, but it might be very windy. You’re also going to get cozy with grains of sand. If you’re looking to challenge your balance, the sandy surface is great. So is grass. Both pad your falls. Ditto for getting cozy with what’s below when you’re on grass, though this time it’ll be dirt and its critters. If you’re keen on an unstable surface like sand or grass, consider leaving your mat behind and practicing individual postures that you hold for a while. If you want to flow among postures, find a more stable surface and use your yoga mat. For that, your best bet is a balcony, deck or porch.

3. Mind the sun

This seems obvious, but extra issues are at play when you’re outside and doing yoga. One: your mat, if you’re using one. It heats up like a skillet on a stove if it’s directly under the sun. Ain’t no fun planting your hands and feet on sizzling rubber. Two: your sight line. It’s nice to open your eyes during outdoor practice, and you can’t do that if you’d be staring at the sun. Solution: Find shade. Practice on a deck, balcony or porch that has a roof in order to reap the benefits of being outside, without the sun beating on you.

4. Pack for all scenarios

OK, not for all scenarios. But you might head out while the air is still and 10 minutes into practice it turns windy. Your mat will flap, you might get cold, or temps could rise and you get too hot. Here’s what you need: a bag stuffed with props, including blocks and straps, so you’re prepared should you want them. Also throw in four items with heft, unless you’ll be near rocks or the like, so you can secure the edges of your mat if the wind gusts. Unless it’s blazing hot, take socks for final rest, and wear layers, which you can remove as needed. If you’re a free bird with no mat or props, wear comfortable shoes and focus on standing balance postures. The easier poses will allow you to get into them more fully and focus on your alignment.

5. Be alert

In a good way. Close your eyes and notice the sounds and smells around you. Notice the feel of the air on your skin and as you breathe. Open your eyes for part of practice and absorb your visual surroundings: colors, textures, external movements. Finally, in stillness, stand, sit or lie down for longer than you normally would and just be; the outdoors is an ideal place to drop into meditation. Try Yin: Go with the flow. As a rule, we can’t control our surroundings outside in nature nearly as much as we can indoors in a closed environment. Use these outdoor opportunities to assess how you react to them.

Journalist and yoga teacher Mitra Malek regularly edits and creates content for wellness-focused outlets, including Yoga Journal, for which she is a contributing editor. Learn more at mitramalek.com.