10 Tips for Your Outdoor Yoga Practice

Prepare for warm-weather sun salutations with these tips

Lisa BarkinTaking 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. 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 colors and cool fabrics are the best to keep you dry and comfortable.  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.

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 after your practice.

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 any time 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.