Practicing yoga outdoors allows you to connect and absorb the energy of the land you are on, which often creates an instant sense of peace and transformation. Feeling the breeze of the wind on your skin, the warm rays of the sun on your face and the sounds of tweeting birds, truly brings back to the present moment. At that moment nothing else matters except the here and now. All your worries dissolve away and you return to a sense of feeling whole, connected and blissful. Throughout my travels, while hiking in steep mountains, swimming in vast blue seas and lagoons and walking through sandy deserts, I took the time to stop and practice yoga. Here are some truly mesmerizing high-energy places that transformed me in ways I will remember for the rest of my life.
1. Dahab, Egypt
After travelling 2.5 hours via a 4WD taxi and hiking 1 hour, I arrived at a UNESCO protected beach by the Red Sea in Egypt. My friend, guide and I came across a bohemian style wooden hut restaurant situated by a clear blue lagoon. The scenery was breathtaking to say the least. The lagoon led out to the crystal clear ocean and was in front of the red arid rocky hills of the Sinai Peninsula. My friend I decided to practice yoga by the lagoon and the sense of peace we got from the beauty and remote location will always be remembered. Over the next two days of practicing yoga at the beach, my friend I attracted curious local Bedouin (nomad) kids that wanted to join in. I led an easy class and made friends with some local children through yoga. Yoga was not only a tool to find peace and connect with the land, it was also a way to connect with locals beyond language barriers.
2. Andes, Peru
For my 30th birthday I had the privilege of hiking the Inca Trail with a friend and amazing guide, who is now my friend. Over 4 days we walked the steps of the ancient Incas over broken stone paths and trails that descended over silent mountains and led down to luscious green valleys. Each mountain held deep stories from the past of Shaman ceremonies, harmonious living, agriculture, astrology and land conquests. While walking over a peak of a silent mountain and looking upon mountain ranges and valleys, I practiced yoga to absorb the peace of the land. I felt an instant glimpse of the connection and harmony the ancient Inca’s shared with their land, as I breathed in the fresh unpolluted air and imagined what life was like for them. A truly memorable experience. I spent my evenings recovering my legs by practicing yoga at the camp site.
3. Koh Phangan, Thailand
Tucked away on the south eastern part of the infamous full moon party island of Koh Phangan, Haad Yuan (Haad meaning beach) is a place I personally like to call ‘paradise’. With turquoise salty waters, soft round rocky cliffs, coconut trees, fresh Thai cuisine and lots of healing session options, it’s one of the most amazing beaches in the world to practice yoga. Imagine waking up in a wooden beach bungalow to the sound of the waves crashing the beach, eating some of the freshest fruit you’ve had in your life then practicing yoga in a tranquil studio nestled in coconut trees. A short walk over the hill past Haad Tien, home to the cleansing center ‘The Sanctuary’ is the secluded beach of Whynam where you can practice yoga on a wooden pontoon overlooking the ocean. The beauty, weather, food and relaxed atmosphere make this place a happy, healthy and fun place to practice yoga, health and meditation.
4. Goa, India
Boasting a long stretch of clean sand, small waves crashing on the shore and only a 10 minute walk south from where all the action is in hippie Arambol, Mandrem Beach is a quiet alternative for a yoga lovers and seekers of shanti shanti (peace). With a ton of beach front bungalows (which can get a little too warm in hotter months) and candle lit restaurants, Mandrem offers of a choice of yoga studios and retreats. I chose to practice my yoga with a combination of handstands and cartwheels on the beach, offering sun salutations to the glowing orange sunset. The grounding energy of India mixed with the liberal relaxed lifestyle of Goa is a powerful place to practice bikini yoga.
5. Tulum, Mexico
Poised on steep cliffs above the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, Tulum is a breathtaking town on the Mexican Mayan Riviera. With its endless white beaches, lagoons, ceynotes (water holes), Mayan ruins and jungles, it’s the perfect place to connect with nature and ancient cultures while practicing yoga. While arriving at the ancient Mayan site of Chichen Itza early before the crowds, I had the honor of practicing yoga and meditation on the grass by the ancient temples. The energy of the solstice ceremonies and Mayan practices could still be felt in the stones of the temples, roots of the trees and soil in the ground. This enlightening energy combined with the sunshine, ruins and peacefulness took my yoga/meditation practice to another level I have not experienced before. It demonstrated the power of how much the land on which you practice can influence your yoga practice, energy and mood.