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As winter fades to spring and we reluctantly begin to appreciate the time change that (for me at least) wrecked havoc on our sleep cycles and dispositions, more of us are seeking excuses to get outside and earn our vitamin D the all-natural way.
Taking your yoga practice out of the studio and into the fresh air is a great way to change things up, but it requires a bit of planning and preparation. Here are 4 essential tips for making the most out of any outdoor environment:
Although, strictly speaking, one can practice yoga anywhere, doing it comfortably while out of doors means accounting for a few contingencies. A couple of things you might want to shove in your yoga bag before you go:
Avoid the crowds, forget sunglasses sliding off your nose, and enjoy the sunrise while you practice. When you’re not at risk for a painful sunburn or at the mercy of every toddler who kicks up sand while running past you, you’ll better appreciate your new surroundings for their tranquility and truly connect to the (fleeting) peace around you.
Whether you’re on the beach, at a trailhead, or in the park, your chances of finding an even surface to lay down your mat are slim. Set up on a clearing that’s reasonably level, making sure you’ve removed any rocks that could puncture your mat, and take every wobbly step as a challenge that will make you a more grounded yogi. Once you’ve finished a few flowing sequences, ditch your mat and try balancing postures on the grass, atop a boulder, or ankle-deep in the water. You might have trouble finding a drishti and you may feel totally insecure, but it’s a worthwhile experiment if only for the pictures you’ll get out of it.
Practicing yoga in a studio or in our homes under the direction of instructors and youtube videos leads many of us to forget how to improvise and tune in to what our bodies actually need. When you take yoga outside and away form some of the distractions you’ve become used to, you’re forced to adjust your habits and have the opportunity to work on what matters most to your individual practice. If you have trouble relaxing, for example, pay attention to the way breezes move through the trees, to the way waves march to shore, or to the songs of birds overhead. If you have trouble finding stability, try getting into tadasana barefoot on the dirt or into balasana with the sun at your back. Play with inversions on sloped ground, take all the time you can in restorative postures, and be thankful for the fresh air when you practice pranayama.
Great weather can mean great opportunity for your yoga practice so don’t miss the chance to get outside, soak it up, and share your outdoor adventures with us by tagging @yolohayoga on Instagram!
About the Author: Melissa Lynn is a writer, yogi, and coffee fanatic from Southern California. A former Division I athlete, Melissa earned her BA in History at Stanford University, worked as a paralegal in Washington, DC, and happily traded pencil skirts for spandex to become a full-time yoga instructor. She is an avid traveler and you can learn about her experiences abroad on her personal blog and website at TheTravelingAmericano.com