How to take an outdoor yoga class

Now that free yoga classes have kicked off in Bryant Park and studios with roof decks are open for the season, we bring you a few mat-on-the-ground rules.
Yoga Lululemon Bryant Park
Does outdoor yoga require its own code of conduct? Probably. (Photo: Bryant Park Blog)


Outdoor yoga requires some mat-iquette. With free outdoor yoga classes about to overtake the city’s parks and piers, and yoga studio roof decks opening, we thought it timely to go over a few practical mat-on-the-ground rules, so you can get the most out of your plein air practice.

1. Pack like an urban Eagle Scout. Bring sunscreen, mat, Yogitoes-like towel, water bottle, and maybe cleansing wipes. But you can save the cooler and sun umbrella for the trip to the beach. Whatever you bring with you is just going to crowd your mat.

2. Apply sunscreen before you arrive. You don’t want your mat to turn into a slide of zinc oxide. (Use your water bottle to rinse your palms off after you’ve applied it.)

3. Be careful of saluting the sun too literally. Even with sunscreen on. Scout some shade or, even better, plan for where the sun’s moving, if you can.

4. Be prepared to not know which direction to face your mat. In some parks, it’s obvious where the instructor will be standing. In others, it’s amorphous. Try to figure it out before getting too settled.

5. Remove twigs from under your mat before you practice.

6. Position yourself near someone who does not have their cell phone sitting out, just waiting for a brunch plan to come together.

7. Practice an overlooked form of lovingkindness: Keep your footwear away from your neighbor’s nose, maybe by putting it at the head of your mat rather than theirs.

8. Go with the flow. Some yogis experience lack of studio walls as a totally liberating experience, causing them to divert from the teacher’s instruction and jump into inversions or other spontaneous poses that are super freaking distracting. Maybe harness your enthusiasm like your breath and stick to going with the flow, at least until after class. —Melisse Gelula

What are YOUR tips for taking yoga classes outside or rules of etiquette? Tell us!

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