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Health & Fitness

10 things that make outdoor yoga much easier

Flow wherever you go.

woman holding yoga mat and strap, woman holding folding mat Credit: Tumaz / Gaiam

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Taking your yoga practice outdoors is a great way to boost your mood and take advantage of extra space. In fact, research from the journal Extreme Physiology and Medicine found that working out outside with people around you can help boost your immune system.

While you’ll need a bit of extra foresight (and energy to tote your gear), flowing on the go can be rewarding and enjoyable—and the sights, sounds, and gentle breezes may even help you look forward to your next workout. Here's the best equipment you need to optimize your outdoor yoga experience.

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1. A mat that’s great for practicing on uneven surfaces

Credit: Reviewed/Betsey Goldwasser

The Reversible Mat passed our experts' tests with flying colors.

Since our first yoga mat test, the Lululemon Reversible mat has reigned as our best overall, and that includes for practicing outdoors on potentially uneven surfaces. You can take advantage of both sides—the smooth side is ultra-tactile to keep your hands and feet firmly planted, while the foamy padded side softens the impact on seated poses.

It weighs in at about five pounds, which helps it provide sufficient heft yet is still easy enough to carry with you when rolled.

Get The Reversible Mat from Lululemon for $88

2. A lighter mat for longer journeys

Credit: Gaiam

This feather-light travel mat makes it easy to flow on the go.

If you have a long distance to travel to your yoga spot, grab this featherweight one-pound option from Gaiam that boasts a sticky surface for stability and grip. It measures 68 by 24 inches with a 2-millimeter thickness when laid out and easily folds into a 10-by 12-inch square for stashing in a bag. As a bonus, its five mandala colorways are nice to look at.

Of its 2,700 ratings, one reviewer writes, “This is a totally usable travel mat that is easily carried. It also folds in on itself so the bottom touching the floor is not introduced to the top when you can’t clean it before putting it away. For the low price point and convenience, I would easily purchase again.”

Get the Gaiam Foldable Yoga Mat from Amazon starting at $18.59

3. A dual-purpose strap for stretching and storage

Credit: Tumaz

Keep calm and carry on with your practice with this top-rated carry strap.

Whatever mat you have, carrying it around can take up a lot of arm real estate. Free up your limbs with Tumaz's top-rated yoga strap. It’s tightly knit for a smoother feel against your skin when you’re carrying it, and doubles as a stretch strap you can use to sink deeper into poses or unwind post-workout.

With over 7,000 ratings, 4.6 stars, and 15 colors to choose from, it’s no surprise the strap has helped numerous folks get into the habit of practicing yoga outdoors. "This strap is really nice quality and very easy to put on and take off," writes a reviewer. "I'm actually more excited about the strap than I am the yoga mat itself. Next time I go to one of those yoga in the park events, I won't feel like such a newb."

Get the Tumaz Yoga Mat Strap from Amazon starting at $6.45

4. Our favorite yoga app for a fantastic flow wherever you go

Credit: Alo

This expert-approved yoga app offers classes tailored to your interests and skill level.

If you’re flowing solo, you may want a guide. For top-notch yoga instruction, we recommend Alo Moves, our experts’ favorite yoga app. It begins with a thorough quiz to help determine your interests and skill level, then offers up loads of teacher-led individual classes and class collections all available on their website or mobile app. Plus, if you need a breather from yoga, you can take barre, HIIT, and core classes, too.

To sign up, grab a 14-day free trial. After that, it’ll be $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year. “Its quality and variety of classes, the layout of the app, and the extensive library make it worth the price,” writes health and fitness writer Esther Bell.

Get the Alo Moves app for $19.99 per month

5. Bluetooth earbuds to deliver crystal-clear instruction

Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The Jabra Elite 85t offer the best mix of features, usability, and controls whether you use an iPhone or Android.

If you want to keep the instructor’s cues in your ear to block out outside noises and without disturbing anyone, invest in the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds, our experts’ favorite Bluetooth earbuds. Of the countless wireless earbuds on the market, we think the Jabra Elite 85t’s stand out for their superior active noise-cancelling capabilities, their oval-shaped design that stays plugged into your ear, and the ease with which you can switch over to "transparency" mode if you need to be aware of your surroundings. While you can’t immerse them in water, they will stand up to the elements, so you don’t need to worry about getting caught in the rain.

Get the Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Advanced Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds from Best Buy for $179.99

6. Lightweight blocks to help you feel more stable

All In Motion
Credit: All In Motion

This lightweight block enhances your practice from every angle.

Whether you're a beginner or advanced yogi, a block or two is integral in helping you improve stability and flexibility. This best-selling block from Target is made of a soft and light foam material that weighs 0.33 ounces. It measures 6 inches high and 9 inches wide, making it accessible from a wide array of poses. You can also use it as a seat during meditation or a back and ankle support during savasana.

“Great ground grip, lightweight, and unobtrusive,” says one five-star reviewer. “Helps hit poses that were more difficult without it. Definitely worth a try for anyone practicing yoga be it young, old, new to it, or experts.”

Get the All In Motion Yoga Block from Target for $7.99

7. A cropped women's workout sweatshirt to layer on

Victoria's Secret
Credit: Victoria's Secret

This pretty and practical pullover helps you stay warm during your workout.

Studio classes are temperature-controlled, but you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature when practicing outdoors. Layer up with Victoria’s Secret’s mock-neck stretch fleece half-zip. Its zipper allows you to adjust your ventilation depending on the temps, and it has a relaxed fit for extra range of motion. While it’s not billed as being cropped, many reviewers note it is on the shorter side, which makes it pair well with high-waisted leggings. It comes in eight trendy colors and patterns like tie-dye, ombre, and cheetah.

Many reviewers note how soft and stylish it is. “It was love at first sight," writes one. "The color is great and the style is flattering. The fabric is super soft inside and out. It is a crop fit just like the photo, which makes it a bit flirty but very functional."

Get the Mock-neck Stretch Fleece Half-zip Sweatshirt from Victoria’s Secret for $44.50

8. A men's sweater ideal for outdoor flows

Credit: Patagonia

This Patagonia crewneck is thick enough to keep you warm yet light enough to layer under a jacket.

For a sweater in men's sizes, it doesn't get much more practical than the Men's P-6 Logo Organic Cotton Crew Sweatshirt from outdoors brand Patagonia. This pull-on crewneck is hoodless to reduce bulk during your practice, and its raglan sleeves provide optimal range of motion while its ribbed cuffs ensure they stay put. It's made of organic cotton, which the company says requires less water and emits less carbon dioxide to produce than standard cotton.

One reviewer says it has "excellent quality and construction, and great fit," adding that "it's warm enough, yet not so bulky that you can't wear a coat [or] jacket over the top of it. The material and construction is good—soft yet solid and washes up nice."

Get the Men's P-6 Logo Organic Cotton Crew Sweatshirt from Patagonia for $59

9. This stainless steel water bottle for cool hydration

Credit: Reviewed/Betsey Goldwasser

This filtering water bottle helps you stay hydrated during sweaty flows.

Yoga on its own can make you work up a sweat. Pair that with warm outdoor temps and/or direct sun, you’ll be dripping in no time. Stay hydrated with our experts’ top-rated water bottle, the Brita Stainless Steel Filtering Water Bottle, which is outfitted with a filtering straw.

Our testers say it “meets every parameter of the type of features we look for in a water bottle,” which includes its large 20-ounce capacity in a slim build, a wide mouth for fitting in ice cubes, and a stainless-steel material that keeps water cold for up to 24 hours. It also opens with one hand, so you don’t have to compromise most poses to take a swig.

Get the Brita Stainless Steel Water Filter Bottle from Amazon starting at $23.68

10. A rugged bag to help you carry everything you need

Woman holding yogiii tote bag.
Credit: Yogiii

This bag will hold everything you need and more.

Any old bag or carry strap should work to get you to your practice spot. But if you have a lot of things to bring along, you may want a heavy-duty, yoga-specific bag to carry it all. One stellar option is the 28-inch long, 10-inch deep Yogiii carry bag, which can hold a mat, towel, block, and water bottle with plenty of room to spare. It also has a pocket on the outside for small-but-important items that can get lost in cavernous spaces, such as your keys and phone.

"I love the simplicity of this bag," writes a reviewer. "The straps are nice and wide and you can just swing the bag over your shoulder. I personally put in a large water bottle, my yoga block, and two yoga mats rolled together for a thicker surface. And I still have a little bit of space to work with."

Get the Yogiii Large Carry Bag from Amazon for $23.99

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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