The best thing about yoga, besides that it seems to magically calm your nerves, is that you can do it anywhere. You don’t even really need a yoga mat or a teacher or that sweet, relaxing music. On a hike? You can do yoga! Waiting at the gate for your flight? You can do yoga! Having a lazy day in bed? You guessed it: you can do yoga.
As more yogis recognize that yoga is more than just the physical poses, more yogis are taking their yoga out of the studio. Many students and teachers are recognizing that “doing yoga” can also mean meditating, paying attention to how you interact with others, honoring truth and kindness above ego, and being mindfully aware of what food, media, opinions, and energy you choose to consume.
If you’re feeling adventurous, here are eight playful ideas for taking your yoga practice somewhere new.
You know that amazing, refreshed feeling you get after a brisk walk on the sand? That ocean air? The lulling sound of the ocean waves? The Vitamin D rush from the sun? Well yoga on the beach offers that same invigorating experience. When you practice yoga outside, the senses are awakened and present moment awareness is enhanced.
Grab a towel that you’re willing to get sandy or find some hard-packed sand and ditch the towel. Soft sand can be a bit messy and tough on the wrists in some poses, but if you’re up for it, the beach provides one of the best outdoor practice spots around.
Here are some ideas for getting your yoga toes in the sand:
- Side bends and lunges to warm up for a surf session
- Surya Namaskars as the sun goes down over the ocean
- Practicing in a guided group with a fun-loving teacher
- Partner posing with friends before a beach bonfire
This is the latest craze, and with good reason! Suspended from the ceiling or a strong contraption, “aerial silks” will support you as you pose. Think hammock time plus stretching. Ahhhh. Or if acrobatics are more your jam, try an advanced class where you’ll get to spin and invert and do your best impression of Cirque de Soleil. Aerial yoga can be fun and exhilarating and/or relaxing and rejuvenating, choose your own adventure. You may find these enticing classes at a traditional studio offering newer styles or a specialised aerial yoga studio.
This is a fun and popular weekend activity popping up in many cities. The deal: take a yoga class or workshop with a fun teacher inside or in an outside space at a local brewery and follow your class with a flight or sample draft beer from the hosting brewery (usually included in the ticket price). This is a great way to lighten up about your asana, get to know your yoga community or teacher in a casual setting, and support smaller, local craft beer businesses. There are always non-alcoholic options, usually all ages are welcome, and participants often receive a discount on other items available for sale.
Beer not your thing? Many vineyards are now also offering yoga classes paired with wine tastings. Look for an event near you or ask your favourite teacher if they’d be interested in taking their teaching out of the studio. Special note: practice yoga first, taste second. Cheers!
Bringing a buddy to class or striking a pose while you’re catching up can be comforting, fun, and hilarious. Whether it’s a guided acroyoga class, a partner pre-natal class, or some silly posing where you fall over and laugh so hard you pee your pants with a buddy, learning to support a partner in a pose offers many benefits:
- You may be able to go deeper in a pose with support (think about how good a skilled adjustment feels!)
- It builds trust and compassion
- It’s a shared experience that encourages connection
- Physical exercise stimulates endorphins, the neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of satisfaction and euphoria, so you and your friend will both feel happier!
Calling all early birds! Set an intention, breathe mindfully, move your body—can you think of a better way to start the day? Bonus: If you’re on the East Coast, combine this with the previously mentioned beach yoga for a stellar, out-of-this-world, gratitude-inducing, start-your-day-with-a-bang experience.
Does the thought of rolling out your yoga mat in your living space stop you in your tracks? Perhaps you think, “Sure, I love my Saturday morning yoga at the studio, but on my own? I just wouldn’t know what to do.”
Here’s the thing: there are no rules. Whether you’re travelling, trying to squeeze in some yoga while your kids nap, or creating a morning routine, doing yoga on your own is highly beneficial. By experimenting with the poses at your own pace, you’ll learn about yourself and discover some of the ancient secrets of yoga: self-discipline, non-violence, non-attachment, trusting your intuition, and the importance of the breath.
Here are some ideas to get your started:
- Start with Sun Salutations. If you’re familiar with the sequence, you won’t have to worry about what comes next. Maybe you stop after five rounds or perhaps it is the start to several more minutes of movement.
- Start in Savasana. If what you really need is a nap, your body will tell you from here. Or you may move into a spinal twist and some restorative poses by beginning on your back.
- Set a timer. This way you won’t be checking your clock or your phone. Give yourself 10 minutes to move freely. Add time as your solo practice becomes more natural.
- Find the time of day that works for you. Not a morning person? How about some yoga before bed? Got a lunch break? How about legs-up-the-wall in your office for 15 minutes? Let go of the idea that you must practice for a certain amount of time or at a set time of day. Make it your own thing and you’ll get the most out of it.
- Put on your favourite music. Whether this leads to a seven-minute dance party or some headstands and handstands, you’re making time to move and be yourself.
- Show up for yourself. Go ahead and give solo yoga a try. Whether you do it one time or it becomes your new favourite thing, it’s worth finding out what you discover when you get quiet and slow down on your own.
Don’t have time to make it to the studio this week? You can practice yoga, enjoy a guided meditation, or learn more about yoga philosophy through online platforms. Many inspiring instructors teach classes that are available through online studios or websites. Whether you’re seeking asana instruction or diving deeper into topics such as Ayurveda, Meditation, Pranayama, or Mindfulness, at-your-fingertips or at-your-convenience sound recordings, guided instruction, and video courses are available on the internet. The Chopra Centre has many online courses; online courses are also a great gateway to doing yoga on your own (see #6).
Have you ever attended a yoga class that’s a fundraiser for a cause you’re passionate about? It’s a two-fer: feel good in your body and know that you’re making a difference! Non-profits could use as much support as they can get, so every little bit helps. Fundraiser classes can bring funds and awareness to issues such as reproductive rights, homelessness, animal protection, meditation programs for kids, cures for cancer, HIV/AIDS, and environmental justice.
If you’re a yoga teacher, have you thought of hosting a yoga class that’s a fundraiser for something you care deeply about? Could you volunteer teach once a month at your local LGBT centre, at an after school program for under-served youth, or for incarcerated prisoners? Yoga benefits everyone and Seva/Karma yoga, or the yoga of service, helps bridge the divides in our communities and unite us all in search of peace, compassion, and understanding.