Have you had a chance to take your yoga mat outside this summer for some outdoor yoga? I have been practicing and teaching yoga on the beach all summer, and to be honest, I’m getting a little spoiled by all the benefits and beauty that practicing yoga outside brings. It gets harder and harder to go inside to the studio, and this is one of the reasons why I love to teach Beach Yoga Bliss retreats in the colder months of the year.
If you are wavering about whether outdoor yoga is for you either at home or on a yoga retreat, here are a few incentives to get you motivated:
1. Get out there
If you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line like I do, you have got to take advantage of the opportunity to get outside and blow the stink off. Seriously, any chance you can get outside for sun-soaked activity between May and the first freeze has got to be taken advantage of. ’Nuff said.
2. A yoga mat with a view
How cool is it to do downward facing dog and when you look between your legs you see a beautiful blue sky or the green leaves of a tree flapping in the wind? Here is what the view looks like while practicing at Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa during my last Beach Yoga Bliss Retreat.
The view for my I Am Love Santorini yoga retreat is not going to be too shabby either! (ha!)
3. The challenge
Anyone can practice inside, but not everyone can practice with their feet in the sand or grass. The ground might be uneven, an ant might crawl across your mat or the sun may be shining in your eyes, but that is what makes outdoor practice so rewarding. You get to go outside your normal routine, feel the earth beneath your feet, and make playful adjustments to your asanas.
4. Best yoga playlist ever!
The music comes courtesy of chirping birds, flowing wind, and the waves lapping up on the beach. I couldn’t put together a better playlist if I tried. Close your eyes, and the sounds are sublime.
5. Special effects
You may get the unexpected delight of seeing a fish jump out of the water, a sailboat float by, or an eagle soar through the sky. Eyes and hearts open.
6. Grow your practice
Said special effects can also provide extra challenges in staying mindful and present. Yesterday, while practicing on the beach, I kept spying sea glass around my yoga mat. I had to resist the urge to bend over and start collecting up all the sea glass and really focus on remaining present. Surely, setting those nagging thoughts aside has to be good for building mental strength and clarity in my practice.
7. Sunshine Salutations
There’s just something special about doing a sun salutation when you can reach your arms up and truly salute the sun, not the ceiling. If you love practicing yoga in the sunshine, practicing while you watch the sunset (especially over the water) is not to be missed.
Sometimes an outdoor yoga class can feel like a toasty hot yoga class. But when that cool wind brushes across your face, it is pure bliss. I don’t know what we would do without those cool tropical winds which were the perfect air conditioning for our Aruba yoga retreat.
9. Incredible inversions
Getting into a handstand always feels pretty damn good, but when you get to do one and see a view like the one to the right, the pose takes on a whole new dimension.
10. High on nature
Yep, yoga can get you high when you practice inside, but I’m here to tell you the buzz you get from an outdoor practice is simply yogalicious, and you’ll experience even more gratitude for Mother Nature.
11. Postpractice curriculum
Once your practice is complete, the postgame activity choices are awesome. My favorite is a little beach-walk meditation. Or, just sitting with eyes closed while in meditation, letting the sounds of nature envelop you can provide an excellent way to seal in your practice.
Joining in an om in any yoga class is a special experience, but when you get to do it and the birds chirp along with you, and the sound of the wind and the waves collectively join into the vibration, the chant becomes pure magic.
Yoga is all about the union of the body and the mind, and when you add the extra element of the outdoors, you can also make it about becoming one with nature. Just a note of caution: Use sunscreen and maybe a dash of organic bug spray before you venture onto your mat!
The Travel Yogi offers so many retreats that provide the opportunity to practice in incredible outdoor venues so what are you waiting for.. Get outside, yogis, to breathe it all in and love it all out!