There is something special about practicing in the open air.
The freshness of the breath, the coolness of a light breeze coming and going on my skin, the warmth of the sunshine, lying down in Savasana with eyes wide open to take in the blueness of the sky and the beauty of drifting clouds. I always seem to come away with something special from doing yoga in the open air.
If you are used to doing yoga in a studio or a closed space, then why not decide to push the boundaries and take your mat outside for a change?
Practicing yoga outside can be calming or exhilirating, easy and tranquil or surprisingly challenging, depending
on the course you decide to take!
The biggest difference will probably be the feeling underfoot, especially if you choose to practice on a lawn or the beach (lucky you!). It is interesting to observe how the different surface can challenge balance. Why not step off the mat, and feel the sand or grass beneath your feet? The direct contact to the earth brings a different perspective – Especially to the standing balances! Give it a try, and see how your body responds.
When practicing outside, I find standing poses like Vrksasana (Tree pose), Garudasana (Eagle), Virabhdrasana 1,2 and 3 and of course, Tadasana (Mountain) to be rooting, grounding and energising. I love Surya Namasakara (Sun Salutations) outside – the gentle flow seems to echo in the gentle breezes and I try to move as though avoiding to stir the air. But then it is also nice to challenge the body with some of the stronger asana like Vasisthasana (Side Plank) or Ustrasana (Camel). For me, backbends work really well outside and I love adding Camatkarasana (Wild thing) and Fallen Triangle to my sun salutation flow. They are strong one-arm balances as well as back bends, and I just love the feeling of exhiliration and strength I get when I add these to my flow routine when I practice outside.
The best thing about practicing outside, especially on your own, is the feeling of freedom. Unbounded by walls, the mind and body seem to find a different
connection. Asana (postures) flow out of a totally unstructured, easy and relaxed place.
However, make sure you wear sunscreen and lots of insect repellent! I once got terribly sunburnt when practicing on a Tunisian beach at 7.30 in the morning. And on another occasion, I took my mat under the trees at dusk in my garden, forgetting that the mosquitoes like to practice their own form of yoga at that time of the evening! Drink lots of water as well. Staying hydrated when it’s hot is always a good idea.
So wherever you find yourself during these last weeks of the summer months – Take your mat outside! Whether you just sit and contemplate or practice a rigorous yoga flow, savor the wellbeing of working outside. It is a true gift.