A few weeks ago, I was writing some listicle or another, and I ended up falling down a Google image rabbit hole filled with celebrities doing yoga in public places. On boats. On beaches. In parks. Just blissfully doing their thing, inverting their downward dog and practicing a shoulder stand like it’s no big deal. And I was reminded that it’s not just celebs who do yoga outside–now that the sun is out, more and more well-intentioned yoga practitioners are unrolling their mats all over town, for all the world to see. Which is cool, if that’s what they’re into–but it’s something I just can’t get into. I can’t do yoga outside.
Now, this isn’t to say that every girl in lululemon pants who sets up shop in the park is a bad person, or that if you really love doing yoga outside, then we can never be friends, because that is silly. It’s also not to say that yoga flash mobs or large-scale yoga demonstrations (like the awesome one on the Solstice in New York City that editor Briana attended) are horrible displays of Spandex. They aren’t. And if you want to Tweet your photos of you doing yoga on the hood of your car to Shape magazine’s Yoga Anywhere campaign, you go ahead and do it.
It’s just that for me, personally, I would rather run nude through the streets with a bucket over my head and a cow-bell around my neck than practice my camel pose, solo, on a public beach, because a.) I’m pretty sure it makes me look like a show-off, which really, really isn’t the point of yoga, and b.) I know I wouldn’t get anything out of it.
The first point is less important, because what other people think about my perfectly legal outdoor yoga shouldn’t matter to me and I know that. But there is a part of me that thinks, beyond instances of awareness raising (like large-scale yoga demonstrations which might turn people on to the idea of getting stretchy and centered), public yoga is kind of show-off-y. And to me, that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about me setting up camp in a park so all the moms with kids can gaze upon my perfect form in awe. That’s so un-yoga. So that’s one reason–but it’s not the big reason.
The big reason is that, outside of my own home or the confines of a yoga studio, where there’s an instructor and everyone’s there for the same reason, I am so overwhelmed with intrusive, outside thoughts (is that person looking at me? Am I being weird right now? Is this the correct spinal alignment? It’s hot outside. Is that a mosquito? There’s sand on my yoga mat) that it’s the least enjoyable yoga session of all time. I just can’t clear my mind when I’ve got my bum up in the air in public.
Again, none of this may ring true for you, and if that’s the case, you go out there and do yoga in public. But for me, personally, I just don’t get much out of an outdoor sun salutation beyond a little stretching and some vitamin D. And yes, I do realize how very un-zen it is for me to rant about something like outdoor yoga, but that is why I need yoga. Because I am tightly wound and prone to irritation.
So no, this summer, I won’t be pulling a Geri Halliwell (a notorious outdoor yoga-doer) and getting sandy and stretchy. It’s just not a thing I do.
Image: Sergej Khakimullin via Shutterstock