Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
When the square footage of your yoga mat starts to feel a little small, try taking your practice into the great outdoors with these five adventure sports perfectly suited for yogis. You’re sure to have fun and learn something new about yourself and the world beyond your yoga mat.
Why yogis should try it: To add some height—and adrenaline—to all of the strength, flexibility, and fluidity you’ve cultivated on your yoga mat
A quick-paced vinyasa practice essentially acts as ground training for climbing, or “vertical yoga” as the YogaSlackers call it. You are already primed to link movements fluidly on the rock wall. Pranayama and meditation increase the focus and mental ease needed for problem-solving in high stress situations (like looking for your next footing 20 feet off the ground).
Yoga not only helps you prepare for but also recover from a full day of climbing. Before a climb, Yoga Journal LIVE! presenter Raquel Hernandez-Cruz suggests focusing on poses to increase core strength, balance and shoulder mobility. Once you’re back on the ground, try shoulder openers and backbends, as well as spreading your toes and opening your feet. “After a long day of climbing a recovery practice will balance the natural pulling and rounding movements of climbing,” affirms Cruz.
Why yogis should try it: To cultivate the connection of your own mind, body, and spirit and communication with another being
While horseback riding and yoga seem like an unlikely pair, Yoga Journal LIVE! presenter Danny Chapparo explained that not only are they a natural fit but that horses are true mirrors of our emotional state, intuitively picking up on our energy and their emotional environment, which can some additional emotional intelligence to your practice. “One of the unique aspects of equestrian yoga is that it addresses the rider as a whole to attain unity of body, mind, and spirit,” she says.
Equestrian yoga focuses on opening the hips to develop a deeper seat in the saddle, strengthening the core for proper posture and increasing shoulder flexibility to allow your arms to move freely with the reins. While yogic breathing helps you stay in sync with the horse when nerves arise.
READ MORE Yoga + Horseback Riding Retreats
Why yogis should try it: For fun—and to take your focus, core strength, and balance to another level
If you can go through the motions of your vinyasa practice without staying particularly present, try taking yoga to a slackline to challenge your focus. YJ LIVE! presenter Raquel Hernandez-Cruz points out that beauty of slacklining is that it’s not only fun but it also produces all of these positive changes—increased core strength, balance and focus to name a few—without your even trying. “All you have to do is slackline, the line will take care of the rest.”
Yoga and slacklining go hand in hand, just ask the YogaSlackers. For the past 10 years they have been using yoga as a tool to improve their slacklining experience, and vice versa. “A ‘grounded’ yoga practice provides a space to improve your core strength, balance and flexibility,” she says. “While knowledge of pranayama, drishti, and mantra is a great tool to have in your back pocket while dealing with fears of falling, heights or when searching for stillness on a wiggly surface.”
READ MORE Yoga on Line: Slackline Yoga
Why yogis should try it: To further hone mental focus off the mat and meditation cushion
While the physicality of yoga may have nothing to do with the sport of archery, the mental focus sure does.
“Yoga and meditation teach us how to keep our mind focused even when situations are difficult,” explains presenter Kathryn Budig. “Archery is very much the same. It requires focus, strength, breath and intention to hit your mark.”
In fact, Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One written by Eugen Herrigel can be found on many yoga teacher training syllabuses.
SEE ALSO Take Aim: 5 Steps to Archer Pose
Why yogis should try it: To connect with your own true nature and Mother Nature
“Combining [yoga and hiking] is about allowing the beauty of the moment to return us to our natural state as animals that are calmed in the familiar sensations of outdoors. It is how animals respond to fight-or-flight to reduce stress,” explains Yoga Journal LIVE! presenter and founder of Hiking Yoga Eric Kipp. “We, as animals, need the same but often override this impulse.”
The practice of yoga opens us up to a deeper connection with nature. (Ever notice there’s nothing better than practicing in a serene outdoor setting?) Physiologically, hiking demands the same steady, deep breath as yoga. Together they have the profound effect of bringing us back to our true nature.