Outdoor Yoga: Go On A Field Trip
It might be difficult to fathom, but at one time yoga was done sans mat. It was even done in varying temperatures. I know – your mind is blown, right? Yoga has definitely evolved over time, and new forms such as Bikram’s, Anusara and Yin are reshaping the way we practice. And while purists might disagree, allowing anything to change and be improved upon from the generation of new ideas is beneficial.
Above sarcasm aside, mats reduce injury; and with the advent of temperature-controlled studios, one can further customize the degree to which a practice challenges the cardiovascular system. But let’s not forget the important role communing with nature plays. It’s called “tree pose” after all, not “water cooler pose.”
Dragging your asanas outside has its rewards. It’s much easier to envision your body as a fluid, changing thing while, at the same time, experiencing the degree to which a landscape changes in an hour. And though uneven ground will prove more challenging, the non-dualistic class of yogis who believe we are all part of one mass consciousness will appreciate feeling grass or sand wriggling up between their toes.
Some tips for practicing outdoors:
- Focus on your view – not your backdrop
- Keep the poses simple in order to avoid injury
- Hold standing poses longer in order to increase intensity and appreciate the scenery
- Wear sunscreen or find adequate shade
- Ensure air quality is appropriate for outdoor practice
- Remain in your body despite visual stimulation
And lastly, be sure to include shavasana (corpse pose) at the end of your outdoor practice. This will likely be more difficult given your vulnerability. To start, you might try just challenging yourself to keep eyes closed while counting to 60, then allowing yourself a peak at the surroundings and then closing them again. Do this five times. Eventually you will feel comfortable bringing your attention fully inside your body while outside.