In the fleeting weeks of perfect weather leading up to the full-blown swelter season, we need no excuse to bring anything and everything outside. Home offices? Obviously. Kitchens? Of course. We can think of plenty of ways to style outdoor spaces when it comes to work and play, but what about bringing your oms outside, too? Add one more backyard (or balcony) project to your list and complete your outer oasis with a dedicated space to make meditation even more grounding.  

To help create an ambience that will rival even the most luxurious open-air spas, we tapped Nina Sanyal, senior meditation instructor at the Art of Living Retreat Center, an idyllic retreat tucked away in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Here’s how to zen out in your yard, according to the expert.

Evaluate Your Environment

Spending time in nature can be a healing experience, but before you go all out with your design, Sanyal says to consider the reality of being outdoors in your choices. Bugs, sun, or the chance of rain can really harsh your mellow. “You think it’s going to be superzen, but if you’re getting roasted and toasted, then your awareness is not inward,” she says. She recommends starting with a sturdy umbrella or, better yet, a pergola with screens or curtains to shield you from the elements.

Liven Up Your Space

Next, decide on a setup that aligns with your practice. “If that’s hanging in a hammock, go for it!” Sanyal says. Whether you’re seated on the ground or doing intense vinyasas at sunrise, there’s no right or wrong approach. What matters when meditating outside is harnessing the energy that comes from nature. For homeowners with a sprawling lawn, that could be creating an herb garden, but if you only have a balcony or patio, Sanyal advises surrounding yourself with plants. (She likes peace lilies and snake plants for reducing stress and potentially improving air quality).

Situate Your Seating 

Funny how we can sit for hours watching Netflix and never feel a thing, but the moment you sit to meditate, “it’s like you remember every bone in your body exists,” says Sanyal. So comfortable seating is key. She recommends a meditation cushion at the least, but a floor chair (essentially a chair with no legs) is ideal if you need more support. Anything made of bamboo is a win for durability and hanging on to good energy (the material is said to retain positive vibrations). Finally, a side table is a nice addition so you have a place for incense, essential oils (this blend is Sanyal’s go-to), or journals you don’t want to plop on the ground.

Activate Your Senses 

Instead of lighting scented candles (which don’t really work outdoors anyway), Sanyal likes to focus on enhancing natural surroundings to tap into your senses. If you don’t live near the beach, re-create the sound of water with a chic water feature. No mountains near you? A garden of stones sprinkled with essential oils can also help raise vibrations (or you can always bring a wireless diffuser outside). And you don’t have to sit in silence to reach backyard nirvana. Sanyal suggests creating a vibe through portable speakers or an outdoor sound system to play your most soothing music or mantras. Take a deep breath and your new self-care space is all but manifested.

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