There are few things I enjoy more than practicing yoga outdoors barefoot in the grass. I love the feeling of the earth beneath my feet, the breeze, the sun, the sound of the wind in the trees and reaching up to the infinite space above me. Now is the best season for outdoor yoga (before the mosquitos and thick humidity set in), so I thought I’d offer some suggestions.
Tips for practicing yoga outdoors ‘en plein air’
- Timing It’s best to practice is before 11am or after 3pm to avoid direct sun (and Pitta time).
- Location Location This part needs subsections–
- Doing yoga on the beach sounds a lot better then it actually is. Dry sand is unstable and it gets into all these awkward places… Wet sand is more stable, but it will still find its way up your mula bandha.
- Lawns, docks or decks are the best outdoor practice surfaces.
- Somewhat even ground is preferable, but life’s uneven, so a few bumps or dips ain’t no big thing.
- Hills and valleys definitely offer some unique challenges which you may or may not be willing to embrace. (Chatarunga downhill is always a fun one to practice!)
- Sun protection It’s best to wear sun glasses, a hat, sun screen and practice in the shade.
- Mat or Not? Unless the ground is damp, I prefer to practice without a mat; just my barefeet and hands in the cool grass. In flow practices, I find the mat distracting, as it usually bunches up and moves around on the uneven ground. Plus, in the sun, it gets really hot. However, I may use a mat, towel or blanket for seated and restorative poses, and for sure on a deck or dock.
- Pollution Use common sense and avoid practicing outside when smog warnings are in effect. It’s also best to stay away from busy roads, places that stray pesticides (ie golf courses) and any other area where air quality is greatly compromised.
- Bugs The birds, bees, mosquitos, ants and flies all live outside, so if you’re going practice outdoors, don’t be surprised to hear, see or feel them buzzing around doing their thing. Accept this and prepare yourself accordingly: find a breezy spot where bugs can’t linger, use
citronella oil or another natural bug repellent, wear long sleeves, pants and/or a bug netting!
- Your practice This could be a whole other post, but here’s a simple outline to follow:
- Start with basic grounding poses and focus on your breath — cross legged pose, child’s pose, reclined pose, etc.
- Warm up with sun salutations or simple fluid sequences that connect movement and breath (vinyasa).
- Do standing and balancing poses, and root your legs into the ground — triangle, warriors, tree, eagle, dancer, etc.
- In the seated sequence, include forward bends, twists, core work and maybe an arm balance or two.
- Close with backbends, an inversion (legs up a tree is a good one) and a rest in savasana or another restorative pose.
- Sounds Accept the sounds of dogs barking, people chatting, cars driving by and maybe boats passing. Unless you are alone on an isolated resort, this is the inevitable daily ‘music’ of life. Tune in to your breath. Let yourself be inspired by your environment and enjoy the flow.
Taking your practice outside
If you think you need a little more guidance than the above practice outline, I have a gift for you! A free download of my 30 minute Vinyasa Flow audio practice. I also have a whole collection of Yasmin Yoga videos. More details
Morning Yoga by the Lake
Each summer since ~ 2004, I offer a Morning Yoga by the Lake program in Pointe Claire Village: Five consecutive sunrise practices out on the water following with breakfast (see photos). It’s pretty sweet.
Check out my events section for details about the next Morning Yoga retreat.