Summer is here. The pools are ready, the patios are full, the parks and picnic baskets are packed — and so are the yoga mats. It's time for outdoor yoga.
Yoga in the Park
Outdoor yoga has been steadily gaining popularity in cities across North America. Maybe you've noticed a small group of students practicing yoga in the shaded groves of your local park on one of your evening strolls? Or maybe you were one of those yogis settling into pigeon pose while the late day breeze gently wrapped around you.
Vitamin D Enriched Yoga
Even if you are the most dedicated yoga student in the world, it can be pretty hard to stay in the yoga studio with the summer sun calling your name. There are so many reasons to practice yoga outdoors.
Summer's bounty in this part of the world is fleeting, so we need to make the most of the warmer seasons. And then there's the positive benefits of fresh air and a moderate amount of naturally-derived vitamin D.
All these things are so good for your mind and body that it would be a missed opportunity if you did not, from time to time, take your yoga practice to the great outdoors!
Your Outdoor Yoga Checklist
You could have a totally enjoyable spontaneous yoga practice by simply plopping down on the grass and rolling around; but to get the most from your outdoor practice, here's a little park yoga checklist:
• Bring your yoga mat and a small blanket to put underneath it. This will help cushion you from bumps, stones and twigs — especially for yoga poses that have you lying on your back.
• Don't forget your water bottle. Avoid soft plastic water bottles, which leak toxic petro-chemicals into your drinking water. A small mason jar works perfectly if you don't want to buy a stainless steel water bottle.
• Wear a light cotton top with capped-sleeves or a sheer cotton 3/4 length top to protect you from the sun if you are doing your yoga practice in the afternoon. Such clothing will also shield you from mosquitos if you are practicing yoga in the early evening.
• In terms of sun protection, avoid using regular sunscreen, especially if you are doing a more vigorous practice that gets your pores opened up. You want to be detoxing from yoga, not filling up your body with petrochemicals and carcinogenic parabens, so opt for natural sunscreens.
• For bug protection, you could practice yoga like Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love” and let them bite you. Or you can use natural bug repellants made from essential oils like tea tree and citronella.
Your Very Own Yoga Studio
Now that you have all of your yoga supplies, you get to create your very own yoga studio. Walk around a few parks to get a feel for which one makes you comfortable. Turn off your discerning mind and let your body guide you to your perfect yoga space.
Notice where you end up. Are you under a tree or in an open field? How does this reflect your mood or general orientation to the world today? Set up your yoga space and let your practice shine.