A Guide To Outdoor Yoga
We break down our favourite places to get on the mat and why we think you should practice your next class in the great outdoors here...
A Brief History of Yoga
Yoga is so old that no one quite knows when or where it was founded but ancient texts and fossilised symbols suggest it was practised on the banks of the Himalayas over 5,000 years ago.
The word 'yoga' appeared in Vedic texts (the ancient and sacred texts of Hinduism) over 2,500 years ago and was described as a spiritual practice designed to unite or create harmony between the body and the mind.
Over the centuries yoga poses have evolved as has the way we practice to suit our modern 'western' lifestyles. From Yin Yoga to infrared/hip hop yoga there's a style for everyone, whether you are looking for spiritual enlightenment, to break a sweat or to simply calm the mind.
Benefits of doing yoga outside
If you're anything like us, then you have become a yoga expert during lockdown thanks to all of the amazing yoga teachers who have taken their practices online. Of course, there is nothing like going to a yoga class and learning from an expert yoga teacher but for those of you who have yet to venture back into a studio setting, we encourage you to practice outside in the fresh air.
With outdoor yoga not only do you feel connected with your surroundings, but it enables you to feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and be at one with the elements and the earth, what could be more 'yoga' than that?
Best places to practice outdoor yoga in the UK
If you have a garden, then this paragraph might not be for you but for those yogis who don't have a space for outdoor yoga practice we have listed our favourite nature spots to roll out the mat.
In the park
There might be people watching but practising yoga outdoors in the park is a great way to challenge yourself. Tuning out the noise of other people and focusing on nature, the birds singing and the leaves rustling only helps to deepen your practice and make you feel at one which nature and your surroundings.
- London outdoor spots we recommend for practising yoga:
- Kensington Gardens where there are plenty quiet spots nestled between the trees.
- Hampstead Health if you want to escape the hustle and bustle. You could even go for a dip in the ponds to cool off.
- Battersea Park where you can meditate in front of the Peace Pagoda.
On the beach
If you are lucky enough to live by the beach then we can't think of a better place to practice your sun salutations.
Whether it's a pebble beach or a sandy one, we suggest heading out early to miss the crowds, catch the sunrise and meditate to the sound of the waves. Having an expansive view also helps with both mental and physical health especially if you are used to staring at a screen all day so get out your mat and make the most of those ocean views.
Some of our favourite British Beaches include:
- Pedn Vounder Beach, Cornwall
- Sandbanks, Dorset
- Brighton Beach / Hove Lawns
- Holkam Beach, Norfolk
- Blackpool Sands, Devon
By a pond
We realise not everyone will have a pond in their back garden but here's where the National Trust comes in very handy. Why not take a trip to your favourite National Trust spot whether it is a country house, a castle or a garden, roll out your mat and make a day of it?
Most of the sites have beautiful gardens, peaceful ponds and acres of grounds to get lost in so take a friend, practice your asanas and finish with a spot of afternoon tea, what could be better than that?
Here are some of our favourite National Trust sites (please note some of these might be closed due to COVID-19) to practice yoga outdoors in:
- Chasleton House, Oxfordshire
- Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
- Stourhead, Wiltshire
- Lanhydrock, Cornwall
What you need
A yoga mat
We would always recommend taking a yoga mat for an outdoor session. You can of course practice without one, but this can be dangerous especially if the ground is slippy. We like these mats from Yogi Bare as they are super sturdy and allow you to keep your grip rain or shine.
Unless you have a self-practice or you simply just want to go with the flow, like a lot of us you will be using your phone to stream a class from your favourite teacher.
This is ok when you are in a home setting but when you are out and about in nature and there's inevitably noise in the background the last thing you need is to have to pause and re-wind your class because you missed something. We recommend investing in some Bluetooth headphones such as air pods so you can really get into the swing of things and not get distracted mid-flow.
Make sure you are hydrated especially if you are going for an outdoor practise in the sunshine. Lots of water is key and we like to add a couple of drops of these electrolytes to ours to ensure we are replenishing our bodies with everything we need to stay strong and healthy.
What should I wear for outdoor yoga?
You can never trust the British weather so we recommend wearing layers for outdoor yoga that you can slip on or take off when you need to. Our bamboo yoga clothes are breathable and keeps you cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold so it's perfect for wearing in the great outdoors (we even tested it in the Amazon rainforest for its cooling technology and it works a treat).
You also want to feel comfortable especially if you are not 100% confident with people seeing you mid-flow so we recommend our high waisted Flow With It or Move It bamboo yoga leggings which look great on all shapes and sizes paired with a Balance Braor Conquer Cami Vest which you can strip down to if it gets too hot. Layer on a Be Grace Batwing or our Mellow Hoody and you are all set.