One of the best things about yoga is that you can very literally do it anywhere. As someone who travels extensively, this is important to me. Not only does practicing yoga while traveling allow me to maintain my fitness and wellness routine, but it also helps me decompress and recharge mentally.
And sure, I always have available floor space in my hotel room or RV rental, but sometimes I like to tap into Mother Nature’s added benefits and practice yoga outside.
As it turns out, there’s actually something to this beyond just my preference. According to Yoga Journal, “Being outside can intensify the yoga experience in many ways [...] focusing awareness, breathing deeply, practicing stillness.” Aha — I knew it wasn’t just in my head!
Things I Learned From Practicing Yoga Outside (and While Traveling!)
A lot of the benefits and principles of yoga extend far beyond just physical. Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned just from figuring out how to do yoga outside.
1. Focus on the little things.
When you practice yoga outside, you’re in an uncontrolled environment. Birds may fly by or you may notice a butterfly or ant. Watching these creatures is a reminder that sometimes it’s helpful and even necessary to shift your focus away from life’s big issues and towards the literal little things.
2. It’s okay to not control everything.
Let’s keep with the theme of being in an uncontrolled environment when you do yoga outside. The lights, sounds, temperature, and distractions are all outside of your control. But you’re not going to let those things stand in the way of your yoga session, right? Let this lesson translate to daily life and realize that sometimes, things are simply out of your control — and that’s okay.
3. Take a breather.
Yoga is all about breathwork. Indoors, though, we have to focus on the physical rise and fall of our chest or the sound of our breath. Outside, nature’s smells and sounds invite us to take deep breaths without even thinking about it, very literally inhaling it all. This is one of the biggest reasons I head outside when I do yoga while traveling — when things become overwhelming, simply take a (literal) breather.
4. Be still.
There’s something absolutely mesmerizing about taking up a stillness pose like the Tree Pose when you’re learning how to do yoga outside. You hear the sounds of nature and life moving all around you, yet you’re not moving an inch. It’s an incredible, almost surreal feeling that demonstrates how simply being still can ground and balance you.
5. Don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable.
In today’s world, we have every imaginable convenience and comfort at our disposal. There’s almost no situation where we have to be uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, though. Practicing yoga outside on the uneven ground, as opposed to inside on a perfectly level floor, very literally connects you with nature. Feeling sand move underneath you or getting poked by pine needles is oddly centering, proving that there’s some satisfaction in going outside your comfort zone.
6. Balance = harmony.
Speaking of uneven terrain, nothing improves your balance quite like doing yoga outside. Interestingly, in physically struggling to find balance on the ground outside, you tap into a more metaphorical internal balance. You’ll find that with balance comes intense focus and patience — excellent mindfulness lessons for life in general.
7. Trust yourself.
On a physical level, yoga requires you to have a great deal of trust in yourself. If you don’t truly believe that you can get into a pose in the first place, much less hold it, you could injure yourself. Over time, practicing yoga (especially outside, on uneven ground) builds self-confidence and trust in yourself. You’ll quickly see that this translates outside of yoga, too, and you have more faith in your decision-making abilities and gut instincts.
8. Listen to your body.
Along the same lines as learning to trust yourself, practicing yoga really puts you in tune with your body. Physically, of course, this is important to avoid injury. On a deeper level, though, it allows you to learn and understand all your body’s signals — mental, emotional, and physical.
9. Be content with what you have.
The only thing you truly need to practice yoga outside or otherwise is your body. Having a yoga mat, bolster, blocks, or special socks is nice, but not at all necessary. With just our bodies, we’re able to create and hold impressive poses, growing stronger each and every time we practice. This is a wonderful metaphor for life itself. Instead of wishing for more of what we don’t have, it serves us so much more to be thankful for what we do.
10. Prioritize self-care.
As they say, practice makes perfect. The more you practice yoga while traveling or outside, the better you get. Also, though, the more addictive it becomes. You’ll find that you need to set time aside for your yoga practice in order to decompress or reset, and you’ll begin to prioritize it more and more. And this is crucial because you can’t fill up others’ cups if yours isn’t full.
11. Just show up.
Whether you’re taking a class, trying to figure out how to do yoga while traveling, or squeezing in a short backyard session, one of the most difficult aspects is just getting started — showing up, so to speak. If you can just take that first step, whether it be yoga or something much bigger, it’s all downhill from there!
A final bonus tip: one of the best things about yoga is that there’s no one “right” way to do it. Whether you’re just starting to practice yoga outside or you’re figuring out how to do yoga while traveling, incorporate it in a way that works best for you!