written by: Kyneret Azizo
Taking your yoga practice outdoors has a remarkable impact on mind and body. You’ll get a chance to breathe in some fresh air and dose-up on healing sunshine. You’ll also discover new ways to make your yoga practice even more dynamic and challenging.
“Can I practice yoga without the yoga mat?”
When you take your practice outdoors, leave your yoga mat behind. You won’t be needing it! With outdoor yoga, the many different surfaces of earth will act as your boundaryless yoga mat. And each spot will offer you so many health benefits.
You also don’t need to worry about making your yoga practice a fixed 60-75 minute session. It can be broken up into smaller segments, scattered here and there as you enjoy a lovely hike through the ravine, or a walk along the beach.
“What is the best place for doing yoga?”
There are so many great places to practice yoga outdoors! Don’t be shy to wander further away from home or the yoga studio, into a more wild setting. Trust yourself and be your own yoga instructor! It’ll take your practice to a whole new level.
Here are some tried-and-tested-by-me locations to practice at and the benefits you’ll get.
1. On a fallen tree log
If you take a walk through a ravine or forest, keep an eye out for a fallen tree resting firmly and horizontally on the ground. Set your bare feet on the rough and curved contour of the tree bark and see if you can hold yourself there gracefully. Work through some basic poses first, like tree pose. Then move onto more challenging poses.
This is the perfect opportunity to develop your stabilizer muscles and your balance. You can also practice with your hands on the bark and balance in a pose like Bakasana (Crow Pose).
2. On a sandy beach
Yoga in the sand is one of the hardest kinds of practices I’ve done. It requires much more strength! You are standing on uneven terrain which doesn’t support your weight fully as a flat and even surface does. With each step, your body sinks into the sand. As a result, you have to work harder to hold poses and move through your sun salutations. You’ll develop your leg muscles and core strength easily by doing your yoga on a sandy beach.
3. On a bed of pebbles
This one takes a lot of getting used to, but it is so great for your health. Start with the basics and just stand there with both legs on the pebbles, shifting weight from one foot to the other. Invite your hands onto the ground as well, in Downward Dog.
When you have built up your tolerance level to the pressure of the stones beneath your feet, see if you can balance on one foot. The pebbly surface will stimulate pressure points in your hands and feet and will help you feel connected to your body.
4. In soil
Practice your yoga asanas on cool damp soil with surrounding trees and other plants. It could be in a forest or your own garden – as long as the soil hasn’t been treated with harmful chemical fertilizers.
Don’t be averse to getting dirt all over you! There are plenty of good microbes in the soil which produce nutrients and minerals that are beneficial to our health. Studies on soil microbes have shown that they are basically nature’s antidepressants.
Try a pose like Malasana (squat pose) for an ultra-soothing and grounding experience. Or try an arm balancing pose with your hands in the dirt.
5. In a flowing stream
If you can find a safe place to stand barefoot in a flowing stream, practice there. Don’t make the practice too complicated. All you need are a few long-held poses to experience the benefit of this refreshing technique. Spending time in moving water will give you a healthy charge of negative ions, which will greatly improve your wellbeing.
When the weather warms, why not take your practice outdoors and enjoy the many environments and surfaces mother earth gives you to play on? It will be a great way to connect with nature, and you might just fall in love with your yoga practice all over again.
Happy outdoor yoga!
Kyneret has been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade. She began as a yoga teacher for Modo Yoga Maple in 2012, and has recently set off on a nomadic adventure to South East Asia. She remains active within our Modo community as a blog writer.
When not writing, she is fully immersed in the day-to-day adventures of travel life and actively seeks out as many foreign yoga experiences as possible to further her knowledge and skills! You can follow Kyneret’s travels on her instagram account @planes_trains_autoimmunity