I feel like I comment on this with every post, but it just becomes even more true with each passing day: summer. is. here. And in Minnesota, we're taking everything outside. Including outdoor yoga.
I love practicing outside. The fresh air and the smells, the uneven ground beneath my feet forcing me to *really* engage. But there are an awful lot of downsides to it. I'm super fair skinned, so I burn easily. I sweat a lot and I don't like being super hot (hi, kapha-pitta side!). Luckily, there are ways to sidestep a lot of these discomforts that threaten to take you out of your practice. Here are some of the things I've incorporated into my own outdoor yoga classes.
Surviving an Outdoor Yoga Class
Here Comes the Sun
The sun is marvelous. But also hot and potentially damaging to our skin. Most of my yoga classes are scheduled for the early morning, like 8 or 9am, before the sun is at full strength. However, even at these early hours, it can still burn. I recommend yogis to dress in layers to combat the rays a little, and never forget their sunscreen. Most spaces also have some shade from trees (although don't rely on the shade... you'll be chasing it as the sun moves throughout class!).
Also: sunglasses. Super necessary for an enjoyable savasana, or at least grab a towel or shirt you can toss over your face to allow you soak in all the juicy benefits.
I'm on the look out for a park with a shaded pavilion over grass or something soft. We've tried practicing on a covered,concrete pavilion, and crescent moon lunges just don't feel great on that surface. So LMK if you know of a good spot!
Combat Bug Invasions
Savasana can quickly turn from relaxing to mildly annoying/terrifying once you feel a little creepy-crawly on your body. I started using my mat spray as not only a cleanser, but to do double duty to keep the bugs away. Using a natural remedy (like this one from One Good Thing) with lemongrass or lemon/eucalyptus did wonders to keep bugs off my mat.
Another option, of course, is actual bug spray. Natural alternatives do exist, but I encourage everyone to find the right option for them. And at the very least, maybe enduring a little squirming is good for your mind to learn what can and can't be controlled!
Don't Let Allergies Knock You Out Before Savasana
The benefits of nature, from forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) to lowering blood pressure, are well-documented. As are the potential pitfalls when you have allergies. Being in a studio usually means that pollen and other common allergens are filtered out; outside, not so much. Take care to set up your mat in an area that is allergen-free for you (from what you can see), and if it's superbad, make sure you take a pill beforehand and have an epi-pen on hand in case of a bee sting (if that's your particular poison).
Mat or No Mat?
This one I leave up to you, dear reader. I love the no mat approach; but I'm also not afraid of a few bugs, dirt, and the rest of what comes with being outside. Blame it on the farm girl in me who used to take baths and proudly show off the rings of dirt left in the tub (TMI?)
By all means, though, if you want to have your *space* clearly defined, your best bets of avoiding bugs, and just like having a mat? Then go for it. I recommend having a mat you don't mind if it gets a little scuffy or dirty (unavoidable in some spaces).
Don't Forget to Hydrate
Dashing out the door, making sure you have your mat and sunglasses and whatever else, makes it easy to forget the water bottle. Water is important in hot yoga; it's doubly important when you're outdoors. Studios provide a controlled environment, from temperature to humidity. Outdoors, you're at the mercy of mother nature. Bring your water.
Ready to Practice?
Minnesota yogis, outdoor classes start in just a few weeks! Caroline is kicking off the Saturday classes on Lake Phalen, and the Battle Creek Regional Parks will start a couple weeks later on Sunday mornings. Like my Facebook page for the most up-to-date schedule info!