5 Ways to Take Your Yoga Practice Outdoors

“This is way more than we ever expected!” remarked a young couple from Toronto as we descended Tremblant’s…

“This is way more than we ever expected!” remarked a young couple from Toronto as we descended Tremblant’s picturesque mountain trails. It was their first YogaTrek experience. They were glowing in a bubble of relaxed happiness.

I asked them if they did yoga. They smiled and responded, “Yes! There’s a yoga studio on every corner in Toronto. We’ve done yoga in the outdoors before, but never like this!”

17_AliKaukas-8149Yoga instructor, Isabella Tonkin, started YogaTrek at Mont Tremblant on Sunday mornings several years ago for her students to get them out of the studio to experience yoga in the great outdoors. Then other people joined in, including people new to yoga and tourists who are happy to discover it during their vacations at the mountain. These classes tend to be smaller and more intimate. The mountain views in Tremblant are unforgettable. The photos you can snap along the way are stunning mementos of your unique yoga experience in the outdoors.

They thought YogaTrek would be walking to a place somewhere on the mountain and doing a yoga class in the same spot outdoors on flat ground. Surprise, surprise! We trek up some of Tremblant’s most beautiful mountain trails and steep man-made staircases to inspiring spots that include natural waterfalls cascading down granite rock faces and mountain streams to practice yoga together in peace and harmony with nature.

When we practice in the outdoors, we can start to really sense a connection with nature, humanity, and the universe.

You can easily do yoga in the outdoors on a perfectly flat, covered patio deck on a yoga mat. Many yoga retreats offer this wonderful experience to commune with nature in total comfort. And, we can often do this at home in our own backyards.

But, what happens when we really go bare! Yes! Leave the yoga mat behind, put on some trail runners and hit a mountain trail. We’re going au naturel!

13_AliKaukas-80995 Tips for Practicing Yoga in the Outdoors

1. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty: In the outdoors, when we ground into the earth, we are really touching it! It may be our hands, our knees, our feet, etc. Enjoy each tactile feel. Let it resonate through your body.

2. Embrace the elements: Rather than engaging in a battle against the conditions, transpose your way of thinking. Give it a try. Add a little gratitude to your thoughts. It’s incredibly powerful.

3. Be prepared: Check the weather report beforehand and dress comfortably for the predicted conditions. Mountain weather can change quickly. A lightweight rain slicker or fleece top can fit easily into a small backpack. Layering is always a great idea. Peel off a layer as the day warms up or add a layer if things cool down. Sunscreen is a good idea year round.

4. Stay fully present: Above all, avoid thinking about the day’s chores ahead of you or yesterday’s problems. Enjoy all the sensory moments during the practice – every single one of them. They belong to you. Your regular yoga practice teaches you mindfulness in the studio. Remember this while in the outdoors.

5. Set your gaze on objects that enhance the pose

18_AliKaukas-8152The natural sensory information found in the great outdoors can inspire us to breathe deeply, reach further, dig deeper, or hold a pose longer. It can also distract us with its overwhelming beauty, challenge our balance, and make it harder for us to focus and practice stillness. I have found balancing poses more difficult or close to impossible when looking at moving objects, especially moving water like waterfalls, waves and rapids, or trees blowing in the wind. For challenging balance postures, I gently direct my drishti (gaze) to something immobile: a beautiful rock, a bright blooming flower, or an interesting looking stick on the ground.

Practicing on uneven surfaces engages and challenges many of the little twitch muscles you never knew you had. Your body will shift and seek balance. As you find it, despite the added challenge nature may offer you, your body and mind gain new confidence and wisdom. Later, you may notice poses you found difficult in the studio, suddenly become easier.

When you are practicing yoga indoors, your mind may travel back to a beautiful yoga moment you had in the great outdoors on a beach, or on a mountain trail.

peggyvarnerPeggy is a Canadian paddler, freelance writer, and communications professional with a popular blog called the BaffinPaddler. It’s about kayaking, paddling, outdoor, travel, and perspective. Perspective being the most important word. Yoga keeps finding its way into Peggy’s blog and life more and more. She’s diving headfirst into Wanderlust Tremblant for the first time this year, ready to explore, learn, connect and share new discoveries.