There are few things I enjoy more than outdoor yoga 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. And now is the best season for outdoor yoga, so I thought I’d offer my suggestions based on experience.
My tips for Outdoor Yoga
Timing It’s best to practice is before 11am or after 3pm to avoid direct sun (and Pitta time).
- About the Beach 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;
- Best Terrain – 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;
- Best Challenges – 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. Choose a non-toxic mineral, zinc based sunscreen so that you don’t sweat it off and your skin still breathes well. My favourite SPF 30 for body is the ABC Sunscreen for kids and I love the Agewell Day Cream for face. Both are from Arbonne.
Mat or Not? Unless the ground is damp, I prefer to practice without a mat; just my bare feet 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 and slippery. 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 other areas where air quality is greatly compromised.
Bugs The birds, bees, mosquitos, ants and flies all live outside, so if you’re going practice in their environment, 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! (I’ve done this!)
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.
Alternatively… Keep it ultra simple. Sometimes just 6-12 sun salutations daily is the most sustainable and beautiful daily practice. Contact us if you would like to received a guided sun salutation practice for free.
Sounds Learn to 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.
Morning Yoga by the Lake
Each summer since ~ 2004, I offer a Morning Yoga by the Lake urban retreat in Pointe Claire Village. It is like my unofficial reset for the year, a time to connect with all my favourite students, many of them who have been attending is program for years. It’s five blissful consecutive sunrise practices out on the water followed by a picnic breakfast (see photos). It’s pretty sweet.
Check out my Events for details about the next Morning Yoga retreat.