There’s nothing more relaxing than doing a sun salutation while watching the sunrise, but which cities are the best for unrolling your yoga mat and stretching outside?
Lawn Love ranked over 80 of the largest cities in the United States to determine the Best Cities for Outdoor Yoga. We looked for cities with lots of green space, a high number of yoga instructors, and yoga instructors with good ratings.
Use our rankings, spotlights on popular yoga cities/regions, and practical tips to get the most out of your next outdoor yoga travel destination.
In this article
Note: Data for Park Acres per 1,000 Residents were not available for Indianapolis and Las Vegas. Only 84 cities, therefore, were ranked for this particular metric.
Results in depth
Be rooted in The Boro
Greensboro, North Carolina, is no stranger to a good stretch. The Boro lands at the top of our rankings, being the city with the best combination of high-quality yoga instruction, affordability, and environmental factors.
Greensboro is a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with plenty of fun places to try a new yoga sequence, such as the Bog Garden at Benjamin Park, the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden, and the Greensboro Arboretum.
Be sure to keep an eye on the weather before signing up for an outdoor yoga class. It rains around 111 days a year in Greensboro, and warm seasons in the Southeast are notoriously humid.
Tired of doing the same old yoga sequence? Yoga studios in Greensboro love to spice things up with interesting yoga classes. Feel the beat with trap yoga, which is yoga set to the rhythm of trap music (a Southern subgenre of hip hop). If you’re an animal lover, you have to try trendy goat yoga. Last but not least, grab a stout after wrapping up your savasana with beer yoga.
Stretching across the Southeast
In addition to Greensboro, five other cities in our top 10 lie in the Southeast region of the U.S.: Atlanta (No. 2), Winston-Salem, North Carolina (No. 5), Arlington, Virginia (No. 6), St. Petersburg, Florida (No. 7), and Richmond, Virginia (No. 8).
With the mountains, beach, and its proximity to D.C., it’s no wonder Virginia is a premier destination for yogis of all ages and skill levels. Arlington hosts the Interfusion Festival, with the National Kids Yoga Conference also taking place in nearby Alexandria. Richmond is home to the Peace Love RVA yoga festival and is about 1.5 hours east of Yogaville — a unique yoga destination along the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Want to go even farther into the wilderness? Floyd Yoga Jam is an annual festival in rural southwestern Virginia, hosted by a town with a population of less than 1,000.
Outside of Virginia, there are plenty of other events in the Southeast to check out. Atlanta is home to Dirty South Yoga Fest, as well as popular community events such as Yoga in the Park and Yoga on the Square. Dog lovers should head over to St. Petersburg for Doga (dog yoga) and try a downward dog next to your pup (or a rescue).
Where to say no to hot yoga
Scorpions thrive in desert landscapes, but that doesn’t make the desert an ideal place to try the scorpion pose yourself. Many of the cities that fall to the bottom of our list are located in Arizona and Texas — two states with a reputation for being hot and dry. These states’ lack of pleasant weather conditions directly impacts the number of outdoor yoga events being held, so you won’t have much luck finding interesting outdoor yoga destinations.
While Albuquerque, New Mexico, is another city in the desert, it ranks No. 9 in our top 10. New Mexico is on a higher elevation than Arizona, making the weather conditions more tolerable. Another benefit of ABQ’s climate is that it only rains 57 days a year, giving you plenty of sunny mornings to try paddleboard yoga on the Rio Grande. Albuquerque is also home to Yoga at the Museum and YogaRitas (yoga, margaritas, and a pig named Tequila Barbie).
Irvine, California (No. 10), is another desert-adjacent city where you can find plenty of fun outdoor yoga experiences. Get out of your comfort zone and unroll your mat for a noga (nude yoga) session on one of Irvine’s nude beaches. If you want to test your balance, grab a partner for some acro yoga at French Hill.
We ranked 86 of the largest U.S. cities from best to worst (1-86) based on their overall score (out of 100 points), averaged across the weighted metrics listed below.
Note: Data for Parks per 10,000 Residents and Park Acres per 1,000 Residents were not available for Indianapolis and Las Vegas. In these cases, a city’s overall score is the average of only the weighted metrics for which data were available.
- Yoga Instructors per 100,000 Residents – Weight 3
- Average yard square footage – Weight 2
- Parks per 10,000 Residents – Weight 2
- Park Acres per 1,000 Residents – Weight 2
- Air Quality – Weight 2
- Average Monthly Rain (in Inches) – Weight 1
- Average Amount of Sunshine – Weight 1
- Number of Very Hot Days – Weight 1
- Number of Very Cold Days – Weight 1
- Average Rating for Yoga Instructors – Weight 3
- Average Price per Session – Weight 2
- Average Google Search Interest for “Yoga” Over Past 12 Months – Weight 1
- Yoga Events per 100,000 Residents – Weight 1
Yoga Alliance, LawnStarter, The Trust for Public Land, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Thumbtack, Google Trends, Eventbrite
Final thoughts: Staying grounded
After spending months cooped up inside, we are venturing out of our homes and visiting dream travel destinations. Self-care seems more important now more than ever, so why not make outdoor yoga a part of your routine?
There are plenty of benefits of yoga that come with starting and sustaining a routine, with a big emphasis on mindfulness and relaxation. Outdoor yoga adds more relaxing elements, such as birdsong, sunshine, and gorgeous views to your practice. However, nature is unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared before you head out.
Here are some practical tips for practicing yoga outdoors:
Consider where you put down your mat. If you’re just starting out, you need to place your mat in view of the instructor. However, it’s common for beginners to feel too self-conscious to be a front-row student; yoga is an intimate practice. Honor your privacy needs, and find a balance between being able to see the teacher and being in a comfortable spot.
Look for dangerous materials. If you’re practicing in a public space, there’s no guarantee that the ground will be clear of debris. Sharp materials, such as glass, wire, and rocks, are commonly found in parks and other outdoor spaces, so take a careful look around before settling in your spot. If you’re near the edge of the woods, it’s a good idea to make sure there are no poisonous plants you could accidentally brush with your leg during a sequence.
Be ready to get dirty. Even with your trusty yoga mat, that doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get a little dirty doing outdoor yoga. Wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting grubby. Always bring water to stay hydrated. And it’s never a bad idea to bring some hand sanitizer with you. Take it a step further by stepping off the mat and fully reconnecting with the ground — this is known as earthing yoga.
Check the weather ahead of time. Make sure the weather will suit your yoga excursion. Avoid practicing during bad weather, and that includes high temperatures. While hot yoga is all the rage, it’s not a great idea to embrace those conditions in an uncontrolled environment — it can be life-threatening if you have underlying health conditions.
When there are unfavorable weather conditions, you can always stay inside and do Yoga with Adriene. If the weather’s good, throw on some sunscreen and bug spray, and you’re ready to go.
Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock