FOR THE 20 YEARS she’s been practicing yoga, Stephani Jungmeyer hasn’t shied away from the elements. She’s taught in the rain. She’s watched two dozen yogis bend into downdogs before lightning alerted her of an approaching storm. Forehead coated with a sheen of sweat, she’s even led a class through a daunting sequence of 108 sun salutations on a sweltering midsummer afternoon. Sure, nature’s unpredictable and sometimes a little challenging, but Stephani says it provides a more comforting and less intimidating environment than an indoor studio space—especially for folks trying out yoga for the first time.
“I love teaching classes outside because it helps people tune in to their bodies and nature more, instead of thinking about, Am I doing this correctly? Or Am I doing this pose as well as that person?” she says. When she’s not teaching at Trailside Yoga, a Fayetteville yoga studio she opened almost three years ago, Stephani takes full advantage of her Mount Sequoyah home’s deck, which faces the woods. A few days a week, she steps outside, unfurls her mat and sinks into a meditation.
“It wakes up all of your senses. You breathe deeper, and you’re much more aware of the fresh air,” she says. “I get to hear the birds, the trees rustling.” Occasionally, she’ll even take her om into the wild and make the trip out to the Buffalo River. She’ll find a spot with a good view—of the limestone bluffs, the elk grazing in the field, the fall foliage reflecting off the water—and allow nature to lull her into a state of complete relaxation. But if you’re the kind of yogi who prefers to find your flow in the company of others, or someone who needs some hand-holding when it comes to poses, we’ve compiled a list of yoga classes taking place outdoors this leaf-peeping season—perfect for getting in shape, or just getting your head together.
Trailside Yoga hosts a variety of outdoor yoga sessions throughout the year, including several monthly classes at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, a Yoga Festival in May and a float trip called Yoga on the River in June. Check trailsideyoga.com for updates.
For Early Risers (or Late Nighters)
Fayettechill’s Yoga Adventure Series with Yoga Deza | Oct. 6 & Nov. 4
We can’t think of a better time to salute the sun than when it peeks its head out from the horizon at the break of dawn. After a short hike along Devil’s Den’s Yellow Rock Trail on Oct. 6, the folks behind Yoga Deza will lead you in an hour-long class on an overlook. Not a morning person? Opt for the moonrise class held under a starlit sky on the evening of the full “Beaver Moon” on Nov. 4. (fayettechill.com)
For Yoga on Cloud Wine
Vinyasa & Vino with Yoga Story at Ramo d’Olivo | Oct. 26
When it comes to inner peace, there’s nothing that’ll help us find it faster than a glass of merlot after a rejuvenating Vinyasa (a style of yoga that relies on coordinating breath and movement). Hosted at Ramo d’Olivo’s wine garden in Bentonville, this Oct. 26 class is open to beginner, intermediate and advanced yogis who like to wine after unwinding. (yogastory.info)
For a Sweatfest at the Foot of the Athenian Acropolis (Kinda)
Yoga at the U of A’s Greek Theater with YogaGypsy | Oct. 28
Realign your chakras at a replica of the Theatre of Dionysus, built in 1930 and gifted to the U of A that same year. Instructors from YogaGypsy will lead an hour-long class on Oct. 28, focusing on meditation and synchronizing breath and movement. We were assured it’s 100-percent beginner friendly—and also free. (yogagypsy.com)
For a Workout with a View
Yoga on the Mountain with Power Yoga Retreats | Nov. 10 & 12
Fayetteville-based Power Yoga Retreats hosts mat sessions in far-flung locales like Mexico and Costa Rica. And while those escapes sure sound enticing, Mount Magazine is an awful lot closer to home—and stunningly beautiful, to boot. Soaking in the bird’s-eye view of the valley from your mat is all you need to perfect the art of oneness. (poweryogaretreats.com)