Salute the sun

Yoga is fantastic for quietening the mind and strengthening the body. Here’s why you should consider practising it outdoors

If you are normally used to practising yoga in your living room or at a local studio, the idea of taking your practice outside might seem a little strange. However, spring is here now and summer is on the way, so it’s the ideal time to try perfecting your poses outside and enjoying the benefits of the fresh air and sunshine.

“Practising yoga outside helps us to be more mindful,” says Eve Menezes Cunningham, a yoga instructor and integrative coach-therapist (www.feelbettereveryday.co.uk). “It encourages us to use our senses more as we enjoy the sensation of grass or sand underfoot, feel the breeze or sun on our skin and generally make the most of our summers.”

“Within the yoga studio, instructors often attempt to create a peaceful ambience in order to promote relaxation,” adds nutritionist and yoga teacher Julie Montagu (www.juliemontagu.com). “However, when yoga is practised outside, this natural setting does not have to be artificially created and the natural environment can be incredibly beneficial to your session. When you take a yoga class outside, or simply practise yoga by yourself in nature, you will find that there is no substitute for getting out into the elements when it comes to finding peace and relaxation.”

“Those who regularly practise outside will tell you that doing so can provide a much more intense experience as you embrace the elements,” says Julie. “It can really help to encourage your practice, and allow you to feel connected to your surroundings.”

As for finding the right yoga poses, Eve suggests that, “Sun Salutations are especially energising when we have actual sunshine to worship.” She adds: “Depending on the stability of the ground, standing poses can be better for outdoor practice, but you can adapt whatever you’re doing. My favourite outdoor yoga poses are Warrior II, Down Dog, Standing Forward Folds, Triangle, Tree and Pigeon.”

“If you feel like trying it, choose somewhere you feel safe enough to go inward,” says Eve. “Adopt poses that won’t leave you feeling too vulnerable or open – trust your own intuition and enjoy the sunshine!”

Choose the right space

Finding the right outdoor space is essential, as you don’t want to go somewhere where you might feel distracted or interrupted – the key is to find somewhere peaceful and quiet. Saturday afternoon in your local park might therefore not be the ideal choice! Julie recommends finding an area that is either completely in the shade, or where you have the option to move into the shade if the sun becomes too much. Also take a bottle of water with you. “Your priority should be to protect your skin while also staying hydrated throughout,” she says.

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