When warmer weather moves in this time of the year, it seems so natural to do your Sun Salutations in the fresh air. Before you unroll your mat outside and start Down Dogging, know what to avoid when practicing outdoors to ensure a calm and peaceful practice.
- Avoid practicing on decks with no mat: Hello splinters! The last thing you want is a sliver when you're stepping forward into Warrior 1. The same goes for practicing on bare pavement, concrete, or stone — the rough surface can irritate your sensitive skin. Opt for a sticky mat and it'll also protect your skin from burning on hot surfaces, as well as offer you the tacky surface you're used to when practicing indoors.
- Avoid squishy or uneven surfaces: Doing yoga on the beach sounds amazing, but just be sure to practice on as firm a surface as possible, such as close to the water's edge where the sand is packed down. Even if you lay out a mat, practicing in squishy sand puts your joints at risk for twisting or other injuries. Avoid uneven terrain or setting up your mat on an incline as this can interfere with your balance and lead to injury.
- Don't forget the sunscreen: When practicing in direct sunlight, you're probably not wearing much. Be sure to protect all your exposed skin by applying sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Before starting, wash your hands thoroughly since the lotion combined with your sweat will turn your mat into a mini Slip 'n Slide.
Keep reading for more things to avoid when practicing yoga outside.
- Don't forget the sunglasses: Your eyes are susceptible to UV damage just as much as your skin, so protect them by sporting a set of shades that offer 100 percent UV protection.
- Don't practice on an ant hill: This seems obvious, but before practicing on the grass with no mat, scour the area to make sure there are no ant hills (especially fire ants), sticks, rocks, poison ivy, or other things that'll get in the way of your practice. Laying out a mat on the grass can help you avoid many of these issues, especially if you're not a fan of bugs crawling on your hands while trying to balance in Sage.
- Don't skip the bug spray: Nothing's more annoying than trying to concentrate on your breath with a bug buzzing in your ear. Unless you plan to practice ahimsa (nonviolence), you'll be swatting bugs the entire time.
- Stay cool and hydrated: Practicing in the hot sun is much different than practicing in a heated room, so avoid dehydration by drinking water, and if you have the option, do yoga by a breezy shoreline to stay cool. The sound of the waves will also calm your mind and even your breath, and you can always jump in the water if you get too hot, so it's a triple bonus. Or practice in a cool, shady area or during times of the day when temps aren't as high, such as early in the morning.
- Don't expect to do a full practice at first: If you plan on moving your yoga practice outdoors for the season, start off gradually, just as you would when moving your runs from the treadmill to the trails. The heat, bright sun, bugs, and outdoors noises can be a huge distraction when you're not used to them, so start off with 20- to 30-minute practices and gradually build up to 60- to 90-minute sessions.