5 Alternative Ways to Practice Yoga

Take your practice off the mat by incorporating elements of yoga into other activities.

Roll up your mat and practice.

Yes, that’s right, don’t roll it out. Roll it up, put it away, and try new ways to cultivate the wonders of yoga in different pursuits.

1. Get Crafty

Let your creative juices flow and let your mind take off in a new direction. Do this in the same way that you would flow with your yoga practice, by following the cues of your body and listening to what feels right and good for you in that moment on the mat. So too should we follow the flow of our mind as we move to create something new.

Research has even shown that working on creative projects, like knitting a scarf, can be both meditative and mindful. When we sit down to work on a creative project we are passionate about, we allow ourselves the time to focus solely on the task at hand, which makes other—often mind-cluttering—thoughts fall by the wayside. Crafting can truly be a gentle, calming, and productive way to quiet the mind.

If you want to give crafting a try but you’re not sure where to start, opt for a workshop where you’ll be given guidance. Many festivals offer an array of creative opportunities, and some Wanderlust Festivals even offer mala workshops where you can learn about malas, setting intentions, gemstones, and then select or create a mala of your own. You can also sit down and color in a page of our Wanderlust and YOGANONYMOUS coloring book, Playful Nature: Coloring for the Here and Now.

2. Get to the Water

There’s something almost unspeakably serene about water. Even if you don’t actually get in it, water can still have this sort of cathartic effect. Watching and listening to the waves as they catapult toward the shore can be such a tranquil experience. It’s easy to liken swimming or floating in water to a cleansing experience, but for many it offers much more than that.

Spending time in the water can be transformational. Activities like surfing, kayaking, or paddle boarding—or even just simply floating on your back—are all amazing alternative ways to draw upon the essence of yoga. Each activity demands us to discover a sense of center, to find balance, and to navigate the waves with grace (when possible, at least), much like we attempt to navigate through the waves of life. A quote I often reflect on: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf,” reminds us to learn to move with the ebb and flow of life rather than trying to resist it. Festivals like Wanderlust find ways to incorporate the benefits of the water, from events held nearby scenic oceans to activities like SUP yoga.

3. Get Cookin’… And Eating

How do cooking and food relate to yoga? Well, like yoga, cooking, and then eating, is a process. From sourcing our food responsibly to mindfully creating meals, and then of course, consuming (and composting the remains). Mindfulness, a key element of yoga, can truly be applied to just about every aspect of our lives—including eating and cooking. Being mindful of what you’re putting into your body and where it comes from is surely just as important as being mindful about what you’re doing with your body, on and off the mat. As Catherine Gregory states in an article for Yoga Journal: “Like yoga, cooking with an open mind is about letting go of fear and expectations. Trusting one’s own experience and inner wisdom. Acceptance. Mindfulness. Practice.”

The idea itself may sound a bit intimidating if you don’t know where to start. So begin with these five easy tips for mindful eating from The Huffington Post: “Eat slower, savor the silence, silence the phone and shut off the TV, pay attention to flavor, and know your food.” Wellness retreats often focus on the healthiest options to fuel your body, which in turn help you learn about the best choices available to make you feel, well, your best. You can experience and taste farm-to-table meals with sustainably sourced and organic food at festivals like Wanderlust.

4. Get in Gear

If you’re someone who likes to keep it moving, biking is an excellent activity you can tap into that has meditative qualities akin to yoga. In an article for Elephant Journal, Carolina Daza writes: “Both [yoga and biking] have allowed me to find an inward sacred space, anywhere I go. Like yoga, biking is a creative, moving meditation that requires full awareness of everything we do and all the world around us.”

The repetitive, meditative motion of pedaling, the immersion in the nature around you—and not to mention the rush of endorphins from exercise—all make cycling an appealing alternative way to practice elements of yoga. Countless invigorating activities and yoga aside, some Wanderlust Festivals (such as Snowshoe, Aspen-Snowmass, and Squaw Valley in 2016) offer attendees the chance to indulge in unbeatable biking adventures, from mountain biking terrain to paved trails.

5. Get Groovin’

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” How true those words are, from the wisdom-filled Bob Marley.

It’s no secret that music has the ability to affect us on so many levels, especially emotionally. We can find songs that we can perfectly relate to, that embody our moods and spirit. Driving around after a tough breakup, we look to songs that capture what we’re experiencing. Heading out for a run, we pump up the volume to invigorating beats that get us ready to take on the trails. Soft tunes can even help guide us into meditation. Music is, and can be, everything. Moving through emotions with the help of music and dance can actually act as an effective alternative to working through those things on the mat. Getting lost in the music and movement can be an amazing way to help us let go of negative thoughts, if only for a moment in time.

Music is an integral part of many festivals, and Wanderlust is no exception, offering DJs and musical acts for festival-goers to enjoy. So when you’re not moving on your mat you can find yourself in front of a stage, groovin’ on the grass.

What are some of your favorite ways to practice yoga off the mat? Let us know in the comments below.