Monday, June 14, 2010

Yoga al fresco

Barring any weather developments--this being the Midwest, you never know--I'm teaching my first outdoor yoga class in a couple of Saturdays. I love yoga outside; breezes, smells, flowers, grass, birds. A sensory smorgasbord to add to the mix. I think it makes you feel a little more one-with-the-planet-ish, and certainly more in-tune with nature.

I've done outdoor classes before and I thought I'd try to be a bit more connected to the location of the class, this time around. I usually pick a favorite sequence, maybe add a bit longer meditation or savasana, but this time I want to try something different. Try something that really takes us out of a basic practice, just by the fact that it's happening outside.

How? I dunno, I'm still mulling it. Because the ground will be lumpy and bumpy, I think we'll be on our feet or sitting most of the time, instead of lying down. Because we're in a beautifully-landscaped corner of Beloit's Riverside Park--garden on one side, river on the other, we'll keep our eyes open (focusing on flowers rather than just turning inward). Maybe not too many standing balance poses, but several seated twists to take in all the scenery.

Changing perspective is really cool and a bit trippy outside, so I want to throw in some inversions--Down Dog, Prasarita Padottanasana and look at the tops of trees from the bottom of our feet. I always use a lesson plan, so I don't have to think about the sequence as it unfolds, but I will be a bit looser for this class. Maybe a nearby duck or goose or snake will present an opportunity to modify...snakes always liven the up joint.

I was initially inspired by this Yoga Journal piece, but I figured I'd turn to my favorite online resource--Y'all. So tell me, what yoga do you do outside? Why? What do you change? What changes you?
(Thank to OldOnliner for his gorgeous flickr photos of Riverside Park)


Eco Yogini said...

as a regular 'outside' yogini, I am so excited for your class!! and I adore your ideas.
I have tried the whole 'longer savasana' outside... but usually get paranoid about bugs crawling on my mat, birds pooping on me... ya know. I could use it to practice meditation... but usually chicken out.

I personally ADORE a more playful yoga outside- trying fun balance postures, fun partner stuff, keeping it light and fun... coupled with quiet seated meditation.

there is nothing more beautiful than simply sitting, eyes closed and listening.

This weekend we also did one vinyasa completely silent (after a few led). often during class there is *someone* talking (usually the teacher). while practicing outside this can take away from actually experiencing our surroundings fully.

Rebecca Sue Peters said...

I love to practice in the park downtown, but have never taught outside. Someday!

Sara said...

The only yoga I do outside is "reclining sun-absorbing position." Ha ha. Seriously though, I love sitting in the sun (especially after a long winter or weeks of rain in the spring), closing my eyes and letting all the sensory stuff that we usually ignore, soak in. I feel the sun's warmth, I feel the breeze, I hear the birds, I smell the grass and I give thanks to the sun for returning again.

Have a great class.

YogaSpy said...

Ah, outdoor yoga... not my cup of tea, but I can see the appeal. I wrote about it here:

I can imagine practicing yoga outside, but only in private. Otherwise it would be like that guy featured in the New York Times doing sirsasana at the airport: making a spectacle of himself. To me, that is not real yoga.

I had to laugh at Eco's comment about bugs and birds. In Hawaii, where I grew up, the beaches and parks are great for picnics and sports, but there are lots of mosquitoes in the upland rainforests, tradewinds by the ocean, unexpected showers, humid heat, blazing sun, and the list goes on. My best setting would be a wooden bungalow with panoramic screened windows, overlooking nature but enclosed for a constantly calm setting...

Brenda P. said...

I'm looking forward to the class and will "compose" it next week. I wish you all could join me!

@yogaspy--To me, making a spectacle of oneself or not, lies in the intention of the practice. A headstand at the airport seems like a questionable choice. A quiet group doing yoga on the grass in a shady corner of the lawn does not.

Plus, in Wisconsin we only get summer for a short 3 months...we've got to get outside while we can!

La Gitane said...

Maybe I just spend too much time in airports, but I thought that article was great! The photos were a bit contrived, but I love the idea that some airports are designating yoga spaces. I often do a few standing and seated stretches in the lounge, and even poses in the aisle on a long flight! I guess I feel like it's only "showing off" if the practicioner feels like it is. If you are focused inward, it shows. I would never say that a monk meditating in an airport was showing off, so why not yoga?

Anyway, yoga outdoors for me is a fun way to break up the usual routine and try new things. It's fun for balance poses and even trying arm balances or headstands with partners where the ground is softer. I guess there's something about it that takes me back to playful summer days on the front lawn when we used to roll and tumble around in the grass.

Enjoy it!!

Brenda P. said...

@LaG-...or a group of people doing Tai Chi. I would love to see a group of Americans out gracefully, purposefully moving through a series of poses in the morning sun on a regular basis...

Emma said...

where? in madison? b, you make me miss the midwest like something else.

2poodles said...

My yoga teacher recently brought a group over to my home for a "yoga in the garden" session. It was a blast! We started off with a walking meditation which I had never done before - really nice.

We did a lot of standing poses and balancing poses which I enjoyed. They offer a different challenge outdoors on uneven surfaces.

The seated forward bends were a bit awkward if facing even slightly uphill, as it put the pelvis off-line.

But those inversions were great - looking at the world from a totally different perspective.

The sounds of birds, frogs, children playing etc. were wonderful and welcoming. The sound of my neighbor firing up his leaf blower, not so much. But it's all part of the world, right?

Good luck with your class. I'll be curious to hear how it went...

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson said...

I love practicing yoga outside. I've only taught one class outside.
The experience inspired the following blog post.

I love your idea of twists with your eyes open to take in the surrounds.

For those of us who spend most of the day sitting at a desk in an office, any opportunity to spend some time outside a treat!

Maria Ciampa said...

Great read! I like to practice by the ocean over here in the Boston area, and it does take time to get used to the sand and wind, but like any other change in a practice, you just adapt.

mary said...

I recently tried yoga outdoors on the sunny back deck. It was great, the birds, the breeze, the surprise of sun on the soles of my feet. I am a middle aged lady, and was wearing shorts a couple days and a bathing suit a couple other times.
My senior neighbor up the hill at a good vantage point left me this amusing note:
Dear Neighbor Mary,
You can use your deck and sunbathe in your bikini or nude if you wish and not worry about me. I will not bother, stare, ogle you. Feel free to do whatever you wish, not a problem at all.