Take Your Yoga Practice Outdoors

“The sun will be what you make it, so rise like the sun, and burn.”
– William C. Hannan

Consider taking your yoga practice into the serene outdoors, while complementing it with the tranquility of a nearby river, stream, or hillside. With the sweet melody of chirping birds, a cool breeze on your skin and the blessed sun shining down on you, it just makes perfect sense! Even five to ten minutes of outdoor activity greatly improves one’s mental well-being.

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Helliwell Provincial Park, Hornby Island, BC

Here are a few tips to support your outdoor practice:

  • Location will affect your state significantly so choose a place where you’re at ease, and one that will support you in taking a break from what may be a demanding day. If possible, seek out a view that inspires you! (With some shade.)
  • Consider practicing before 11am or after 3pm to avoid toasting in the heat.
  • Yoga on the beach sounds a lot better than it actually is since the ground is often uneven, and a yoga mat tends to scrunch up amid the poses. Lawns, docks or decks are the better supported surfaces for practice.
  • Mexican yoga blankets or simple beach towels are better options for practicing outdoors. They will grip the Earth, without making it any softer.
  • Use a mat, towel, or blanket for seated and restorative poses, and while practicing on harder surfaces like a deck or dock.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen, a water bottle, and a towel (which can double as a strap if you need one).

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    Avatar Grove in  Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, BC (Pic: JM)
  • Start with a few basic grounding poses and focus on your breath: child’s pose (balasana), cross-legged pose (sukhasana), butterfly (badhakonasana), reclined pose (supta badha konasana), etc.
  • Keep your practice safe while you connect with Mother Nature: to relieve the wrists, avoid too many down dogs (adho mukha svanasana) or vinyasa flows. Choose sun salutations (surya namaskar) to warm the body up (connecting movement and breath), and then step back into cooling postures from mountain pose (tadasana).
  • Sunrise or sunset is always a mystical time to flow through surya namaskar.
  • Since outdoor surfaces can often be uneven causing instability, practice standing and balancing poses. Tree pose (vrksasana) is an excellent place to start for all levels. Other great options include tree pose two (vrksasana two) eagle pose (garudasana), standing hand-to-toes (uttanasana), triangle (trikonasana), warrior two (virabhadrasana two), and chair (utkatasana).
  • In a seated sequence include forward bends, twists, and core work.
  • Close with some restorative poses followed by savasana.

 

This article was originally published for Salt Spring Malas.

(Cover Photo: Helliwell Provincial Park, Hornby Island, BC)


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