Outdoor Sport to Try: Outdoor Yoga

Try yoga outdoors alone or in a group! Photo credit flickr.com/bozdoz

Try yoga outdoors alone or in a group! Photo credit flickr.com/bozdoz

When I moved back to Des Moines a couple of years ago I heard about an event that happened at Gray’s Lake on summer weekends. The event was Yoga in the Park, and one Saturday morning I threw my yoga mat on the back of my bike and rode across town to join at least 75 other yogis for some morning sun salutations.

I had done yoga several times before but it was mostly DVDs in my crowded living room. This yoga practice was a completely different experience and I was immediately hooked.

I practice yoga 4-5 times a week, and I try to get outdoors at least once a week for a practice. Whether you’re a yoga veteran or don’t know downward dog from savasana here are a few great reasons to try outdoor yoga today!

Welcoming Environment
Literally. Most yoga studios are extremely welcoming places, but if you’re not used to practicing in a studio environment an outdoor yoga class might be a nice place to get started. Outdoor classes are usually open to the community and bring people from all backgrounds. It’s not uncommon to see a group of friends trying yoga together for the first time practicing next to an older man who has been practicing for years.

The outdoor environment also helps you feel calmer, and when you close your eyes you’re likely to hear birds chirping and the wind blowing. Stretch your body and calm your mind for an overall recharge!

Tip: If you’re new to yoga try finding a spot closer to the front so it’s easier to see the instructor. 

Added Balance Challenge
Yoga is a great way to increase your balance and strength. Practicing on a grassy or uneven spot can be a great way to add additional challenges to poses that might otherwise come easily to you. And there’s nothing like practicing tree pose next to a tree.

If balance is difficult for you indoors, you might find it easier to balance in difficult poses in outdoor classes. The more relaxed vibe of an outdoor class might make you feel less competitive and I always find there are more things to look at to help me balance!

Tip: Of course the additional challenges can make practicing yoga outdoors a little bit more dangerous. Before you lay your mat down check for dips in the ground, twigs or rocks that might throw off your practice. 

Become one with the ocean... Photo Credit: flickr.com/mishism/

Become one with the ocean… Photo Credit: flickr.com/mishism/

A Truly Solitary Place
While outdoor classes are a great way to start doing yoga outdoors, you don’t need an instructor to become an outdoor yogi! Try doing a few sun salutations in the woods after your trail run or find a quiet place in the park or your backyard to practice alone. If you’re used to exercising with music this can be a great chance to unplug and let the natural sounds guide you through the physical practice. If a pose feels difficult, listen to the world around you and take in the scents. You will truly feel at one with nature.

Check out this post at Core Power Yoga for 8 great poses to practice outdoors.

Tip: If you’re practicing in the park or at the beach, scout out an area that’s away from foot traffic and onlookers to make you feel comfortable. 

There are a few extra things to think about when you’re practicing yoga outside. Make sure you bring sunscreen, bug spray and a towel to help you wipe off your mat. Grab a friend and find an outdoor yoga class near you. Make sure you take photos and post them to Instagram using the #outdooryogis hashtag!

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2 thoughts on “Outdoor Sport to Try: Outdoor Yoga

  1. My husband and I took a yoga class when we lived in Cedar Rapids. Unfortunately our instructor left the area and then we moved to DM. We loved that class! I signed up for one here in Norwalk last fall but it was a completely different experience and I withdrew after the first class. I have RA and it’s not easy for me to support my body weight on my hands and wrists. I also don’t hear very well and although I set myself down right THERE in front of the instructor she spoke so softly that I just could not hear her. It was a frustrating experience.

    I recently joined the new Lifetime Athletics club in Clive (love to swim!) and they have some yoga classes there that I might check out.

    The thing I’d really like to do is join a tai chi class but haven’t had any luck finding anything. One option is to try a DVD or something on Netflicks.

    Your comment about exercising to music made me smile. We have outdoor speakers installed above our deck but I rarely use them as I much prefer the sounds of nature instead. Hard to beat birds and insects and planes in the distance (we live hear the airport) and the sounds of golfers (we’re on the 4th fairway of the Legacy course). When we host parties we sometimes turn on the music but honestly I usually just forget we have those darn things!

    • I know the YMCA’s in Des Moines have tai chi classes sometimes as a special course you can sign up for. I’ve never done it but it seems like a fun thing to try!

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