Why Everyone Should Do Yoga In the Mountains This Summer
Hiking and biking have their place in every outdoor adventure trip—but down dogs at 10,000+ feet elevation has its perks, too.
Many people seek out mountain towns for landscapes that naturally give way to outdoor adventure. And depending on the season, we tend to play favorites with the ways in which we move on a mountain vaca: We ski and snowboard in the winter and hike or bike in the summer.
"There is almost no time for rest and recovery when we have snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, biking, boating, climbing," admits Kimberly Ghorai, manager of Meta Yoga Studios in Breckenridge, CO.
But since crisp, high-altitude air (and awe-inducing panoramas) are the perfect place to take in a view instead of whizzing by it (and since no one wants to be cooped up in a studio all summer long), more and more destinations are incorporating outdoor yoga classes into their schedules. The classes appeal to both a highly active local community and a base of tourists who are likely in need of a little scenic R&R, too. (Related: 7 Reasons You Should Book a Fit-cation to a Ski Town This Summer)
Meta-as well as other local studios in Breckenridge, including Bhava Yoga-offer SUP yoga classes on a local pond at the base of a ski mountain, alfresco classes overlooking the mountains, and a class on the patio of the Breckenridge Distillery (with drinks to follow).
It's a perfect blend of outdoor adventure and self-care. "When you can bring a mindful practice like yoga into nature, it becomes the most magnificent and appropriate of yoga studios. We're connected to the source, which is a big component of yoga," says Jayne Gottlieb, founder of Aspen Shakti, a yoga studio in Aspen that offers year-round classes atop Aspen Mountain (read: 11,212 foot elevation), summer yoga under the full moon, and an outdoor farmers' market outside their in-town studio-which also hosts morning meditations on the weekends.
For people who might feel intimidated by studio yoga classes at home, outdoor yoga offers relief because it often links up multiple activities or offers a chance to do something totally new. And a trip is the perfect way to try your hand at the experience in a different kind of group setting. (Related: Learn How to Plan the Most Epic Adventure Vacation of Your Life)
"Most of our guests have never done yoga in a studio, but are willing to try something new and fun by combining it with nature and outdoor activities," says Julia Geisler, owner of Park City Yoga Adventures. Her company offers unique experiences including paddleboard yoga in a Utah crater (which houses therapeutic 95-degree mineral water, so no biggie if you fall!), hikes through high-mountain meadows that end with a rejuvenating practice, and guided excursions that conclude with a yoga session in silks hanging from grove trees (did we mention you get a gourmet lunch, too?).
In Vail? You can even say "om" at 10,250 feet in a meadow full of aspen trees and baby goats (that are known for snuggling up during poses).
For the high achievers, more vigorous forms of yoga can also be prep work for any of the activities you already have planned for your day. "The muscles it takes to power you up a mountain are the same that will hold you in a solid warrior pose on your yoga mat," says Kim Fuller, a yoga teacher in Vail, and the owner of CO YOGA + Life magazine.
To make the most of a mountain yoga adventure (and to find the best spots in a new place), just be sure to chat with the locals. "Head into a retail shop in town that sells fitness apparel, or a local gym, and ask about some options for studios and classes in the area," suggests Fuller. They'll almost always be able to steer you in the right direction. Also, ask about the intensity of a class so you're sure you're getting what you want-whether it's a little bit of zen or a crazy-good workout.
And, if you have time, try more than one class. Gottlieb notes that the first time you do anything, you're still getting used to it.
For the biggest benefits, consider waking up with an outdoor practice, too. Research suggests that those who spend their time stretching in the morning (versus later in the day) are more likely to make the practice habit. (And, hey, if taking in a crazy gorgeous view while working out with a healthy, local community becomes a habit on vaca-or at home!-we certainly wouldn't complain.)