Tips for Outdoor Yoga Practice

 

“Indoor yoga is a pretty recent phenomenon,” says Eoin Finn, an internationally renowned yoga instructor who spends up to 15 hours a day outdoors. “Yogis originally did yoga outside in beautiful places.”

Practicing yoga in the outdoors can be revitalizing—and brings you a little closer to the original purpose of yoga: achieving unity. “A yoga studio is such a controlled environment,” says Finn. “But when you do yoga outside, you’re forced to interact with all these other forces—you’re honoring your interconnection with all life.” Here are some helpful things to remember as you head outside to practice yoga.

Pack a Sweatshirt

No, not to wear—but for  savasana—the final resting phase of your session—Finn suggests placing part of a sweatshirt over your eyes to block out sunlight and help you relax. “Relaxation is tricky when there are people’s dogs around or you feel self-conscious about lying in the middle of a park,” he says. Covering your eyes is simple way to tune out the world.

Bring a Book

The initial moments after any yoga class—especially indoor ones—can be disappointing: You’ve been lying  still in lovely rest after the challenge of your practice, only to be jarred by bright lights and the rush of life. What happened to the relaxation you worked so hard to achieve? But in the park, you can stay—and relish the hard-won, relaxed state, says Finn. “Fight that habit—that you’re done so you have to pack up and go,” he says. “Allow yourself to stay and read a book or have a smoothie.”

Leave your yoga mat at home

Yoga mats, especially thick mats, are meant to provide some cushion and friction when placed on solid surfaces. When your yoga mat meets  the sand or grass, though, you will find it bunches, folds, and makes a softer surface even harder to navigate.

Mexican yoga blankets or  beach towels are better options for practicing outdoors. They will cling to the Earth, forming to the natural surface without making it softer. As an added benefit, any dirt that clings to your towel can be dealt with by simply tossing it in the washing machine after practice.

Be conscious of your wrists

The wrists are more vulnerable to pain and injury when practicing on a soft surface. The heels of the hands  tend to sink into the ground, collapsing the wrist and putting pressure on the ulna bone where it connects to the outer hand.

To relieve the wrists, avoid too many down dog holds or vinyasa flows. Choose  salutations to warm the body if desired, and after your initial warm up, simply  step back into postures from tadasana (mountain pose).
Forego the Music

Music can definitely enhance a yoga practice and even encourage you to persist in a challenging pose. But, studies show human happiness is greater when we connect with nature. Without music, we can appreciate more fully the aesthetics of nature when we’re outside. Listen for the waves on the beach, the call of birds, breeze in the trees and even  “disturbances” like people talking or planes above you. Turning your senses outward during practice- tuning into nature, you exhaust the senses and are prepared to turn them inward at savasana.

Practice Balance Poses

Practicing yoga on an uneven surface does make your wrists more vulnerable, but it can also offer beneficial challenges for muscles in the ankles and feet.  A greater level of balance can be achieved through the tree, eagle, or dancer pose when practiced outside.
Try Inversions

One exception that can be made  to standing on the wrists too much while on soft surfaces is the handstand. Main benefits of handstanding outside:

  1. Falling on sand or grass is more forgiving than a hardwood floor. This fact alone makes many people who normally rely on the wall when hand-standing much bolder outside.
  2. The soft surface of the ground  forces you to activate  your fingers and grip into the Earth. This is great practice for when you return to the studio, as active fingers enhance balance.

Stay hydrated

Sweating isn’t the only way to get dehydrated. Our bodies lose water when we exhale, and in particularly dry summer air, your body loses water even faster. Remember to stay extra-hydrated in the summer, even if you haven’t been sweating.

Drink a glass of water upon waking. Your body loses water while exhaling throughout the night. Make sure to replenish that water before you partake of any morning caffeine, which will further dehydrate you.

Keep a water bottle with you during the day.  We are accustomed to being careful not to eat certain things for our own health.  Water is something you can always say “yes” to. In fact, make it a point to drink water before and after your yoga practice.
Being mindful of your hydration, testing your inversion boundaries, embracing nature’s sounds, protecting your body’s vulnerabilities, and preparing for savasana are key points worth thinking through as you move your practice outdoors.  As you consider this, what emerges is that changing the atmosphere of your practice, and thus adjusting to the change;  can produce depth and strength for your Yoga journey.  Life is a series of changes and our response to them, this particular change, can be of your choosing.

 

Sources:
https://www.doyouyoga.com/7-things- to-remember- when-doing- yoga-outdoors/
http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/outdoor-yoga
https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/5-tips- for-practicing- yoga-outside

 

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Author: TheBigGreenGym

I love nature and enjoy yoga. Combining the two is a special experience, especially as living in Michigan, there are fewer opportunities for that to happen; which makes it all the sweeter.

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