The first time Toronto ambassador Lisa Barkin took her yoga practice outdoors she was amazed at how distracted she became. It took a bit of time getting used to the sun shining in her eyes, the passing flow of traffic and the sounds of her neighbours playing.
10 tips for your outdoor yoga practice
Taking your practice outdoors allows you to step out of your normal studio routine. If you are new to an outdoor practice you may encounter a few challenges along the way. As we gear up for Salutation Nation 2011 here are my top 10 tips that will help prepare you for an awesome outdoor yoga practice:
1. Bring a well cushioned yoga mat: A thicker mat is perfect for an outdoor practice especially if you are on a hard or uneven surface. I love The Mat; it is ultra thick, providing extra cushioning for the hips, knees and spine.
2. Start with your breath: Take some deep breaths before you begin your practice. Feel your breath and hear your breath. Taking in fresh air and not indoor recycled stuffy air brings plenty of oxygen into your body and increases your energy levels.
3. Protect yourself from the sun: It’s important not to forget that you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time. Make sure you have sunscreen on or cover up (the Run:Sunblocker Long Sleeve is lightweight, has an excellent UPF rating and provides great sun coverage.) A pair of sunglasses may also be handy especially in poses like Triangle and Extended Side Angle pose.
4. Keep hydrated: It can be hot and humid so listen to your body temperature. It’s easy to overheat and become dehydrated quite quickly. I always have my water bottle close by.
5. Dress for success: Light colours and cool fabrics are the best to keep you dry and comfortable. The carved back of the Cool Racerback tank allows for a great range of motion. Don’t forget to bring a headband or elastic to keep your hair from blowing in your face. Have something available to cover you up during Savasana so that you don’t get the chills as you cool down. The Om Scarf or the Vinyasa Scarf are great because they're big enough to keep your entire body cozy.
6. Prepare for interested onlookers: There will definitely be curious people watching you practice. Don’t let them become your Drishti. Tune inwards and away from distraction. You may even inspire them to take a class.
7. Have a towel handy: If you only practice indoors you may be surprised at how much heat you build when you Vinyasa under the sun. Outdoor yoga can be hot and sweaty especially during the summer months. A yoga towel will help create a slipless surface on your mat and will be handy to wipe down your mat with so that you don’t take the outdoors back in with you.
8. Practice for you: Let your practice be your own. Whether you are practicing in a studio, at home or outdoors your practice time is for you. You want to step off your mat feeling energized, refreshed and rejuvenated!
9. Listen to your body: Take as many breaks as you need, Child’s pose and Savasana are both completely acceptable at anytime throughout the practice.
10. Be in the moment: In an outdoor practice there are many variables that can cause you to lose your focus: wind, distracting noise, sun in your eyes and yes even bugs crawling across your mat. The ground can be uneven and it may be easier to lose your balance, so go slower and embrace the outdoor experience. Take time to gaze up at the sky, feel the breeze on your skin and the earth beneath your feet.
Salutation Nation 2011 is happening September 10th 2011 and these tips will help you get the most out of your practice. Join Lisa as she leads a class in the Toronto community, or find your local community to participate in our neverending om!