The summer sunshine makes us all long to take part in outdoor activities, so this time of year is the perfect opportunity to take your fitness routine outside.
One way to spend time outside and get in some healthy movement is by taking your yoga practice outdoors. Outdoor yoga benefits include the opportunity to de-stress, stretch out, and celebrate life in the sun. If you don't yet have a yoga practice, getting started is easy and rewarding.
All you need is a yoga mat, some sun protection, and the knowledge that you're strong and worthy of self-care. A nice view doesn't hurt, either!
The Benefits of Yoga
There are many proven benefits of yoga, and outdoor yoga poses provide an opportunity to experience the benefits of deep stretching while appreciating the outdoors. It's a win-win!
While we often think of flexibility as the ability to do a split or touch your toes, there's more to it. Flexibility refers to the range of motion that each joint or muscle has in your body. When you stretch your arms and legs in the morning, you're flexing those muscles.
If you work at a desk job or have trouble fitting exercise into a busy schedule, you may feel especially tight. This is where yoga comes in. Yoga has been scientifically linked to increased flexibility, and stretching your muscles frequently will help you feel more limber. This will help you in your fitness routine and daily life.
You may wonder, "Is yoga actually exercise?" Yes! You can work your way up from a gentle yoga flow to more advanced positions that require a lot of strength. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calls yoga a light-to-moderate form of physical activity, and some yoga poses are considered muscle-strengthening activities.
As you venture deeper into your yoga practice, you'll realize that some poses require more upper or lower body strength than others. For example, you will feel Warrior I pose in your quadriceps and hamstrings, while the Downward-facing Dog pose will work your shoulders and arms. The more you practice these poses, the stronger your muscles will become.
Even in the warmer months, the everyday stresses of life can accumulate. Luckily, no matter where you practice, yoga is a great stress reliever.
Outdoor yoga likely helps you manage stress because of the controlled breathing techniques that calm the body, the meditation that quiets the busy mind, and the serene environment that offers a break from the fast-paced parts of life.
If you've headed outside for your yoga practice, there are also the benefits of a beautiful day outside. Outdoor exercise offers fresh air, vitamin D, plenty of sunshine, and an undeniable connection to nature.
Take Your Yoga Practice Outdoors
If you have access to an open outdoor environment such as your backyard or a nearby park, then you can practice outdoor yoga poses. Here's exactly what you need to start your outdoor yoga practice, including tips on safe sun care while exercising outdoors.
What You'll Need
You don't need any special equipment or accessories to do outdoor yoga poses, though you can certainly try yoga straps and blocks if you're looking for deeper stretching. Even a yoga mat is optional if you want to feel the earth beneath your feet, but if you prefer the cushion of a yoga mat, opt for one that's rugged and waterproofed for outdoor use.
You'll also need a water bottle so you can stay hydrated, and if possible, choose clothes with built-in sun protection. In addition, a broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect your skin from the unwanted effects of the sun's rays, allowing you to reap the benefits of outdoor yoga in safety.
Yoga Poses for Beginners
Yoga resources for beginners are abundant. You can use everything from apps to online streaming platforms to find at-home yoga classes and flows for all experience levels.
These five yoga poses are perfect for beginners because they're gentle, equipment-free, and a great foundation to grow upon:
A Note on Sunscreen
A common misconception is that sunscreen is only needed for beach trips and long days by the pool. In fact, you should wear sunscreen daily, including during your mini yoga retreats.
Since cumulative exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is associated with skin cancer and visible signs of aging, we encourage you to think of applying sunscreen like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast—as a permanent part of your everyday routine.
A good rule of thumb is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes before going outside. Apply to your face and body so you'll have maximum coverage, and if you break a sweat doing your outdoor yoga routine (highly likely), simply reapply every 80 minutes if you plan on staying outside.
As you build your routine, you'll notice you're both gaining strength and looking forward to the time spent outside practicing these relaxing but fulfilling exercises—next time consider bringing a friend to share in this wholesome fun!