Tips for Taking Your Yoga Practice Outdoors
Follow these 5 Tips to Enjoy an Al Fresco Yoga Practice
San Diego has more than 340 parks and over 70 miles of shoreline, which can be enjoyed year-round, thanks to our mild climate. Whether you’re looking to try yoga at the park, the beach, or in your backyard, practicing outdoors can be a great way to diversify your practice. If you’ve always thought about taking your yoga practice outside, keep reading. The beauty of the great outdoors might just inspire you to breathe more deeply, reach further, dig deeper, or hold a pose longer!
The Health Benefits of Yoga
Practicing yoga on uneven, outdoor surfaces forces your body to shift and seek balance, engaging and strengthening muscles you wouldn’t typically use when practicing indoors. Plus, if you lose your balance or have sensitive joints, grass and sand are much more forgiving than a hard yoga studio floor.
In addition to improving overall well-being and offering strength-building benefits, yoga can improve heart health. As part of an overall healthy lifestyle, yoga can help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function and heart rate, and boost circulation. It has also proven benefits for those with a chronic condition such as heart or cardiovascular disease, or those who have experienced cardiac arrest, a heart attack, or another heart event.
Quick Tips for Practicing Yoga Outdoors
1. Be Prepared
Check the weather report before taking your yoga practice outdoors and dress comfortably for the predicted conditions. Layering can be a great option; peel off a layer as the day warms up or add a layer if it cools down. Sunscreen is a must, regardless of weather conditions. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from sunburn, early skin aging, and skin cancer.
2. Bring Your Mat, Just in Case
Doing yoga without a mat can make it easier to get footholds while enjoying the tactile experience of digging your hands and feet into the earth for balance. That said, bring a mat to your first few outdoor sessions, at least until you’re familiar with the conditions at your new outdoor yoga spot.
A mat can greatly improve your comfort level if you find yourself at a beach with grainy or wet sand, and it will protect your knees and feet from small pebbles and stones if practicing on an earthen floor. What’s more, if practicing on lawns or grass, a mat will prevent grass stains on your favorite yoga clothes!
3. Bring Extra Water
If you’re used to getting through class without water, reconsider when planning to practice outside. It may very well be warmer outside compared to even a heated studio space. Take more water than you think you’ll need, especially if there is a hike or walk to the spot where you’ll be practicing.
4. Bring a Towel (Or Two!)
It’s always helpful to have a hand towel for wiping off sweat, but outdoors, you may also want to wipe sand, earth, or dew from your body. A beach towel can come in handy too; lay one down under your yoga mat to add another layer of solid surface, and to keep sand and dirt from ruining the bottom of your mat.
5. Stay Balanced
The natural sensory information found in the great outdoors can make it more difficult to focus and practice stillness. Balancing poses can prove to be particularly challenging when distracted by moving objects, especially moving water like waterfalls, waves and rapids, or trees blowing in the wind. To maintain your balance, try focusing your gaze on something immobile: a rock, a flower, or a colorful beach umbrella.
Many Americans enjoy yoga to help them relax, increase their flexibility, and improve their heart health. Hand in hand with a heart-healthy lifestyle, it is possible for a yoga-based fitness routine to help prevent or manage heart disease.