5 Reasons to Take Your Yoga Practice Outdoors

04/26/2015 08:31 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2015

As the weather gets warmer and the sun shines brighter, the thought of practicing in a dimly-lit or crowded yoga room can feel uninspiring. So how do you keep your enthusiasm strong on those days that you're craving some fresh air and vitamin D? Here are five reasons to go with the flow, and bring your practice outdoors:

1. Enjoy the View
While the familiarity of a yoga studio may be reassuring, imagine sliding into Upward Facing Dog Pose to see a brilliant blue sky instead of the same tired ceiling. The change of scenery not only provides a beautiful backdrop, but can also make the time pass faster. You may find yourself practicing a few extra arm balances just to savor the setting.


2. Boost Your Mood
Birds chirping, a cool breeze on your skin, and the sun shining on your face - it's not hard to understand why spending time outdoors makes you happier. According to a study in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal, participants who exercised in a natural outdoor environment reported a decrease in tension, anger, and depression, and an increase in enjoyment, satisfaction, and energy compared to performing the same activity indoors. Even five to ten minutes of outdoor activity vastly improves mental well-being.


3. A Breath of Fresh Air
Taking your yoga practice outside and into the open air will not only boost your mood, it may also increase your performance. A 2012 study found that older adults who exercised outdoors maintained higher levels and longer periods of physical activity than those who worked out indoors. Don't be surprised if you feel motivated to flow a little longer or push a little harder on the days you venture out to get some fresh air.


4. Challenge Yourself
You may have mastered Crow Pose on your mat, but have you tried it on the soft sand or in a grassy field? Practicing familiar poses in a new landscape not only provides a fresh perspective, it also offers new ways to be challenged. Finding balance on uneven terrain and keeping focus through unusual distractions can make an outdoor practice more rewarding and more fun.


5. Salute the Sun
Though sun salutations can be performed anytime and anywhere, there is something extraordinary about practicing them under the sun. Sunrise or sunset is always a magical time to flow through surya namaskar, and there's a unique feeling of relevance when your movements and surroundings are aligned.


The next time you get the urge to head outdoors, don't fight it. By getting out of the studio and into the fresh air you can experience yoga as it may have been intended. Remember to bring plenty of water, dress appropriately, and always use sunscreen.

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* Photos above taken by Nathan Rose Photography for Riva G Yoga