As the temperatures warm up, it gets dark later, and the city gets a little more green, I find myself looking for ways to spend more time outdoors. One way I do this is by taking my asana practice outdoors. I’m fortunate enough that the balcony of my apartment is big enough for me to roll out a mat, set up some props, turn on a yoga class podcast, and start to practice. During the warmer months, I try to get out on the balcony at least once a week for an outdoor practice, even if it’s just for a few sun salutations to start off a weekend morning.
But you don’t need a balcony to take your asana outdoors, there are many options in DC for doing this – Cherry Blossom Yoga in April, Yoga on the Mall in May, and Yoga in the Park throughout the summer months (search local events in DC to find out where and when – in 2012, it was offered in June, July, and August on Sunday evenings in Meridian Hill Park and Wednesday evenings in Dupont Circle). Travelling? Check out local community resources; you may be able to drop in on a free outdoor class where you’re going.
Not able to make it for a live class outdoors? You can roll out a mat or beach towel in just about any park, the backyard, or on a beach and practice. If you prefer not to guide your own practice, I love the wealth of options in yoga podcasts (especially the free ones) and CDs that are available to guide you. I have a few loaded on my iPod for those days when I don’t want to guide myself (which is most of the time). I connect it to a speaker and there we go, a class wherever I am.
Think you want to give it a try. Here are a few of my tips for practicing outdoors –
- Be prepared for your mat to get dirty – so you might designate a mat to be your “outdoor” yoga mat or if the ground is soft enough, use a towel that can be easily tossed in the washing machine.
- Use a beach towel when practicing on the beach – sand will stick to your sticky mat. I now have one mat that is my designated beach mat, because I haven’t been able to get all the sand off. A towel, though, can be washed.
- Dress for the temperature – wear layers that you can peel off as the body warms and that you can put back on as you move into cooling poses.
- Wear sunscreen – the sun will not necessarily be kinder to you because you are doing yoga, so wear sunscreen to help limit the effects of exposure to the sun.
- Bring props (if you have them) – a block, strap, and blanket can only enhance your practice, so if you have them and use them in the studio, bring them with you (especially if you are at home and outside).
- Keep a water bottle handy – just like with any other outdoor activities, you will want to stay hydrated, especially if it’s warm out, so keep a water bottle at your side.
- Bring a hand towel – you’ll probably sweat and there’s a chance you may step or lay on grass, sand, or dirt. A hand towel is great to dry off during practice and then clean-up with afterwards.
So whether you are in town or globe-trotting, if the weather’s nice and the air is clean (well, at least, not totally smoggy), roll out your mat, set up your props, and try taking your asana outdoors.