How and where to practice yoga outdoors
With the summer sun shining brightly, many people look to spend more time outside. One of my favorite ways to enjoy the great outdoors is to try Yoga al fresco.
Taking a yoga class outdoors is a perfect way to expand your practice: surrounding yourself within a natural setting, breathing in the fresh air (and not the sweat of the person next to you), and listening to the sounds of nature instead of the traditional yoga playlist.
When in an outdoor setting, your yoga seems to intensify in a different way. Through the environment you’re more aware of your senses and being in the moment. The word “Yoga” traditionally is translated to mean “Union”, and experiencing your practice outdoors helps you to connect to the elements—the sun warms your body for the movement, the gentle breeze cools you off as you flow, the sights and smells allow you to breathe more deeply, while Mother Nature’s soundtrack plays in the background. It’s harmony and connection to the universe, and a perfect place for a moving meditation.
Outdoor yoga is also good for you physically; with nature’s uneven surfaces such as sand or grass, the imbalances can challenge and intensify your practice, or allow you to sink more deeply into a position. Doing this also helps you to work the muscles in your feet, hips, knees, spine, shoulders and of course is always great abdominal work! Just remember to feel into the four corners of your feet, and spread your fingers out like starfish, gripping onto the surface of your mat.
When preparing for taking your practice outdoors, be sure to plan ahead for the elements and changes in weather. Always bring your own mat, just in case none are provided (and if they are then double up!) and insect repellent. Also, be sure to bring sunscreen, even if it’s overcast. While practicing yoga outdoors is a great way for you to get your Vitamin D, it’s also best to remain protected. Also, look into sunglasses that are “downward dog” approved; I love Oakley Women’s TwentySix.2 and Forehand (both I’ve personally tested!).
Check out these local class options:
- Fairfield: Yoga4Everybody hosts weekly Beach Yoga classes at Penfield Beach.
- Westport and Rowayton: Take your yoga to the water with Downunder! Check out their classes or schedule a one on one appointment to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Yoga, there’s nothing quite like savasana on the river!
- Westport/Southport: Freestyle Fitness offers one on one and small group outdoor classes by appointment.
Want to try it on your own? Start with some comforting positions such as corpse pose, Childs pose, forward fold and downward dog before moving along to more challenging positions.