The team behind The Zest Life Retreats share its top beginners’ tips for taking yoga outside
With the lockdown gradually easing and days getting warmer, it’s a perfect time to experiment with new activities outdoors. So why not give your yoga practice a new dimension by practising in nature?
Yoga is known to have endless benefits for our health and wellbeing – as does being out in nature. Just being out in green space reduces anxiety, stress and mental fatigue and improves mood. Put yoga and the outdoors together and you will get the most sublime blend of an exercise that works for your mind and body, in an environment that promotes a positive sense of being.
Taking your yoga outside and practising in nature adds a whole other dimension to the experience. Some of us have become disconnected from nature due to our current lifestyles, but no matter where we are in the world we can all connect back to nature to feel calmer and more grounded.
So where do you start with your yoga practice outdoors?
Find an open space, whether it’s your back garden, your local park or the beach, and take your shoes off! Start by connecting and plugging into the earth through your feet, and you will instantly feel calmer and more rooted.
Take your time to appreciate the moment by practicing some mindfulness. Stand tall, close your eyes, bring your shoulders down, relax your whole body, listen to the birds, feel the sun on your face and the grass beneath your feet and breathe deeply for 10 breaths.
Then slowly start your chosen yoga routine, or simply go with the flow and see where the body takes you!
All types of yoga can be practised outdoors. Maybe you’d like to sit quietly under a tree carrying out a meditation or enjoy a lie in the sun and have a lovely long shavasana (relaxation pose).
Easy posture work is great to do on the grass; a simple sun salutation routine is perfect. Child pose is another great pose to do outside in the grass.
Laying your head on the earth and breathing deeply will soothe your nervous system and give you a refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole mind-body system. You can also get more adventurous with your poses playing out on the grass.
If you have access to a sand beach, it’s the perfect place to perfect balance postures such as handstands, and it would be rude not to do a tree pose!
Any time of day is good for yoga but best to avoid the hottest part of the day. Yoga would generally be practised first thing in the morning, facing east to the sun rise, when the world is at its stillest. Just make sure you find the time that works best for you when you can really switch off and won’t be disturbed.
If you have kids around and finding free time for your practice is impossible, involve the kids! They love climbing over their parents in child pose or crawling under in downward dog. Learn to incorporate that connection as part of your practice, the practice of gratitude for beautiful beings to share your yoga time with.
Being out in nature is a huge part of The Zest Life retreats and philosophy. They take any opportunity to do yoga outdoors and it is always gratefully received by their guests.
On each retreat people take a walk on the beach, and when the weather permits guests are taken to some quiet sheltered spots where they can take off their shoes and enjoy a simple sequence of uplifting postures.
The Zest Life retreats also have evening yoga sessions in the garden with the warm sun beaming down. This is where guests also get to experiment with partner yoga – those sessions always end in laughter.