7 Tips To Practice Yoga Outside The Yoga Studio (No Mat Required)

Shannon Brady
7 Tips To Practice Yoga Outside The Yoga Studio (No Mat Required)

Sure it’d be nice to carve out a few hours every day to breathe, stretch, and flow to your favorite Desert Dwellers tunes in a yummy jasmine-scented, candlelit yoga lair. But that’s rarely possible, even for those of us who teach yoga. Whether it’s hard time spent in a hip-stiffening chair trying to stay ahead of the email monster trail, waiting for the cable dude, or making sure the pooch gets his flow on during a walk, life just gets in the way. But who says you gotta have a mat, bamboo floor, and large chunk of unscheduled time to practice? With a little humor, creativity, and humility (you’ll see why soon enough) you can get your asana on just about anywhere, including right where you are.

No Mat Required

Get started with a strong intention to practice. Anywhere. On any surface. Think you need a mat? Fuggedaboutit! I once had an instructor who said mats were for sissies. My tender tailbone begged to differ, as did my protruding ankle bones wrought with scar tissue amassed from years of jarring activities pre-yoga life, but eventually the hardwood floor began to soften as I learned to breathe deeper and move with more awareness in his classes.

Bamboo Floors Not Required

Carpets make great headstand surfaces. Warrior ones? Not so much. My boyfriend and I discovered this when trying figure out how to create a yoga room in our all-carpet apartment. Answer? Home Depot! Offer your muscle-y pal a free yoga session in exchange for help hauling 2-3 sheets of ¾” finished plywood to cover your carpeted floor. You can even add a little bling by staining the wood finish a soft shade of honey. Light the candles, roll out mat (unless you’re going the non-sissy route), chant a few Ohms and you are good to go.

Cubicle Confinement Relief

I get it. I used to spend long stretches in front of a computer at the office daydreaming about my next yoga practice. One way out of hips in ergo chair hell is to consider your lunch break carefully (you do take one, right? If not, start now!) Get out of the office, and the building if possible, and walk to the nearest park. Go through a few salutations or whatever poses inspire you. And if the nearest park happens to be a needle exchange, don’t shoot down my idea just yet. Try the hallway. So what if the uptight account managers next door brush past you with a quizzical look? Smile and perform your favorite asana and they might just join you. You might even rally a few co-workers to join you for regular lunchtime practice in the conference room (or in the hall if the boss isn’t enlightened enough to see the value in this).

On The Go

When a few head rolls and shoulder shrugs just ain’t enough to loosen up behind the wheel, pull over and take a 15-minute asana break between errands. I shuttle between three yoga studios where I teach, and drive by several schools – perfect for my own asana break when I don’t have time to practice myself. The giant lacrosse fields and running tracks sit empty most of the time, and if they are busy with activity, I get inspired by young, fit athletes getting their game on.

Waiting In Line

Inching your way up the grocery line? Push aside your cart of kale and strike a pose. Warrior III should see you through, and is positively guaranteed to get that impatient fella behind you sighing loudly to step back a few paces.

Vacation?

Absolutely. Now is when you’ve got the time, so use it. Beach? Check out DoYouYoga’s recent post on tips for practicing in the sand. Alpine vacay? Someone thought of yoga on a paddleboard, maybe you’ll be the cool yogi that finds a way to sell salambasana on a snowboard. Flying across a few time zones? One traveling yogi I know always sends a few photos of her handstands in the flight waiting area. May as well go upside down before sitting upright in a confined cabin for hours on end.

Cocktail Party?

Just say no, sport. Booze and bakasana do NOT mix.

Wherever the day takes you, take five and find your asana. With or without the mat and bamboo floors.