8 Great Tips for Practicing Yoga Outdoors
There are innumerable benefits both physically and mentally with doing any kind of outdoor exercise. One amazing and underrated outdoor exercise to consider is outdoor yoga. A recent Harvard University article outlines many physical and mental benefits to yoga, "surveys have found that those who practiced yoga were more aware of their bodies than people who didn't practice yoga. They were also more satisfied with and less critical of their bodies. For these reasons, yoga has become an integral part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and self-esteem."
With that in mind, here are some fantastic tips you can use to ensure you have an awesome outdoor yoga session.
1) Pick a Great Location with a View
Practicing yoga in a local park is a great place to take in local beauty and nature. If your local park has nothing but buildings surrounding it, try and look for another place that will give you more views of nature. This will help you connect more with your surroundings and have a more spiritual practice. It’s a lot better to be surrounded by views of trees, mountains, and the sea than man-made structures, right? If that still isn’t an option, even doing yoga in your backyard will do. The National Park Service website is a great database for parks.
2) Check the Weather
Nothing can ruin an outdoor activity faster than getting caught in a sudden downpour. Check the forecast a day or two ahead and prepare accordingly. It could also help if you’re able to check the air quality forecast too. Who wants to inhale pollution or haze when doing breathing exercises, right?
3) Bring a Cushioned Yoga Mat
A nice thick yoga mat will be essential for your outdoor practice. A thick mat ensures that even if the surface is a little uneven or is too hard, you will have the cushioning you need for your knees, spine, and hips. Keep in mind that since you’re doing yoga outdoors, it’s a given that your yoga mat will get dirty or even muddy. You can either purchase a cheap yoga mat for outdoor use or even better; if you have an old mat, you don’t mind dirtying up use that instead.
Another suggestion: if the place you’re going to be practicing outdoor yoga has a nice field with thick grass, you can ditch the mat and be more one with nature by just feeling the earth under your feet. Use a beach towel or yoga blanket instead if you wish.
4) Dress Properly
Since you’ll be practicing yoga outdoors, wearing loose and comfortable might be best. You’ll be under the sun, meaning light, breathable fabrics that don’t restrict any movement as well as keep you dry. A lot of brands have some great looking dry-fit clothing. Pack a headband or hair-tie to keep your hair in place in case it’s too windy outdoors. Bring a towel to wipe down your yoga mat, as well as to keep yourself dry from sweat. Just because you’ll be practicing outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t look good doing it.
When you start cooling down when you do the Savasana, it might help to have something to keep you warm. A windbreaker or thin sweater would be nice. You can even use a piece of cloth to cover your eyes to help relax; it’s a surprisingly good way of tuning out the outside world, allowing your mind and body to unwind and rejuvenate.
5) Bring Sunscreen and Bug Spray
Outdoor yoga means being under the sun. Don’t forget to pack and apply some sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. If it starts getting too hot, consider doing your practice in a shaded area. If possible, check the UV index before leaving so you can adjust and maybe opt for scheduling your outdoor yoga practice to either in the morning before 10 a.m., or during late in the afternoon after 4 p.m. These are the times of the day when the rays of the sun aren’t as strong.
One other essential thing to pack is some good bug spray! You won’t be able to focus or meditate properly when you’re constantly trying to swat some pesky flies or mosquitoes. This is why packing a good DEET-free bug spray like Nantucket Spider's Original Natural Bug Spray for People , Summer Camp Citronella Free Bug Spray For Kids and Adults , or Extra Strength Tick Repellent Spray can help save you from the annoying little insects. Nantucket Spider is made using essential oils like cedarwood, citronella, clove, geranium, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, and spearmint that are known to be natural insect repellents. If you want the best natural mosquito repellent to make sure your outdoor yoga stays pest-free, use Nantucket Spider. Besides spraying some on yourself, don’t forget to spray your gear as well to keep them bug-free, too. Oh, Nantucket Spider even has a bug spray for dogs!
6) Keep yourself Hydrated
Doing any form of exercise under the hot sun means you will sweat a lot, more so if it’s also humid. Bring a large thermos or reusable water bottle. Make sure to fill it up before leaving the house since you might not be able to find a source of water there. Keep that water bottle near you so you stay hydrated. Don’t forget to do a lot of deep breathing exercises before you start your practice and to help you cool down after. Being in the outdoors means lots of fresh air, so take that in and feel that natural energy flow through your body. Learn more about how to stay hydrated while outdoors here
7) Tune-out the Crowd
If your outdoor yoga practice is at the local park, then having curious or interested onlookers is unavoidable. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of people watching you as you practice yoga, then look for a more private area where you can practice in peace. If you are fine with having spectators but are bothered by the noise, bring a good pair of headphones and listen to some nice, relaxing music to help you stay focused. If it will help, try and look for a class you can join that does outdoor yoga or invite a friend along to practice with you. Having someone to talk to and bond with while doing the same activity makes for a better experience.
8) Finally, Enjoy the Little Things!
Even if your outdoor yoga practice is done, make the most of this wonderful moment and linger around for a while. Take in all the great sights and sounds of your surroundings as you meditate. Feel how wonderful the warmth of the sun feels and enjoy that cool breeze as you unwind and relax. Your mind and body are reaping all the benefits of this great outdoor yoga practice. Feels great, doesn’t it?