Saturday, October 8, 2011

Practice tips for outdoor yoga

Imagine doing yoga while watching the sun set over the Arabian Gulf.  Now that the weather in Doha is becoming more temperate this is a possibility but a few tips before you take your practice outside.      

In yoga what we are actually trying to develop, in addition to a flexible, strong and pain free body is a focused stable mind.  For this reason we want to create a practice space for ourselves that is as free from distractions as possible and is safe and comfortable.  It is important to distinguish between the yoga of photographs where beautiful yoginis practice advanced poses on the edges of precipices and the reality of a relaxing secure space for your average struggling practicionaire.  So while it is very lovely to practice outside it is important to make sure of a couple of things.  1.  Have a solid stable floor.   (You can stretch on sand perhaps but not really practice.)  2.  Make sure that there is shade and protection from the wind.  3.  Make sure that you have privacy – especially if you are just starting out and are not comfortable in your practice.

While all of this may seems obvious the space in which we create our yoga practice in is extremely important.  If your practice is to actually become a practice rather than a few yoga stretches then you need to focus on withdrawing the senses from the outside world and keeping the mind still.  We call this developing eka grata or one pointed concentration.  It is this one pointed concentration that prepares the mind for meditation and it is through developing a meditative practice that we start to practice yoga.  Many of the tools of yoga including concentrating on the breath, directing the gaze in a specific way, and locking the abdominal core are designed to help with withdrawing the senses from the outside world and stilling the internal dialogue. Distractions, such as wind and sun and the fear of people watching can all detract from that.  Which is not to say that it can not be inspiring and motivating to go outside.  Yoga is also about beauty and joy and I take my own practice outside as often as possible but I take care of the basics first.  So if you are planning to create an outdoor yoga space remember to keep it solid and safe and secluded so that your practice can be too.


Yama Yoga offers classes outdoors at the Rtiz Carlton.  See our website for more information.