Beach Yoga Girl Kerri poses in the Skechers Burst – Very Daring sneaker. Photos by Agathe Padovani.
I love yoga outdoors. I think there is something magical about being outside in the fresh air practicing yoga in the elements. Now that the weather is getting cooler, it’s the perfect time to be outside. Besides practicing at my home studio or at the beach, I also like to practice at my favorite park at Lake Okeeheelee here in South Florida.
Getting outside in the elements made a huge difference for me in my practice. For years, I practiced in a classroom setting, staring at those giant mirrors. The problem wasn’t the mirror; it was that I was focusing mainly on what I looked like and if I can be candid… really it was about how my hair and outfit was looking. That may seem shallow, but I found it really hard to concentrate while staring at myself.
I also obsessed on my form – trying to look perfect in the mirror, all while trying to be “zen.” What is so funny to me now in retrospect, is that there really wasn’t anything zen about it.
Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t think practicing indoors is bad. In fact, it’s quite practical and it is what most of us do; however, when I began to practice outside, I was able to let go of what I looked like and really feel the practice of yoga. There was no mirror to tell me if I was doing it right or wrong, and I had no idea if I looked good or bad. I simply surrendered to the practice and learned to feel the postures, feel my breath and feel the world around me. It was an eye-opening and rewarding experience for me.
There are some additional benefits to practicing outside that I didn’t recognize until I did it. I found that my practice on different surfaces really challenged my balance. I couldn’t do postures like Tree Pose or Warrior 2 that were once easy for me inside on a hard floor, and postures that were usually harder for me like Pigeon Pose or Frog pose now seemed easy-breezy.
I also noticed how easily I would get annoyed at the elements. If the wind was too strong, I’d fall over or if sand got on my towel, I’d spend countless minutes brushing it off. I mean, wasn’t I supposed to surrender to the practice? Why was it so hard for me to just embrace it? It really got me thinking about how important it is to change up our surroundings in order to learn a valuable life lesson: the art of surrender.
Practicing outdoors definitely took me a while to get used to – but over time, I began to love it. I learned to let go of what people thought about me and whether I was “doing it perfectly.” What was happening on the outside, whether it be wind, rain, uneven surfaces, temperature (or yes, the occasional bug) did not matter. What mattered was how I responded to those things. I believe that learning to respond in peace is the lesson of yoga and the secret to living a more peaceful life.
I live near a big lake, and often take my boys and dogs for walks there. It’s so nice to be able to just stop next to the lake and practice. Skechers makes these amazing new flexible sneakers. They have the perfect amount of flex to perform yoga outdoors. They also easily slip on and off for poses that may require bare feet.
I encourage you to find time to practice somewhere outdoors that inspires you to let go and surrender. No matter what your experience level, I believe that surrendering your yoga to the outdoors will have a profound effect on your practice and your life.
Beach Yoga Girl Kerri Verna has taught Yoga for 14 years. A 200-hour RYT and personal trainer, she is SUP Yoga-certified with Stoked Yogi and has over seven fitness certifications including Pilates, Kickboxing and Tai Chi. She enjoys sharing her love for Yoga and photography on social media. Join her one million-plus followers at Instagram, on Facebook and at BeachYogaGirl online.