The Ultimate Guide – How to Design a Place to Practice Backyard Yoga

June 30, 2024

For over 25 years, running has been a constant in my life, but with the recent onset of knee pain, my orthopedist has advised me to pick a new form of exercise, which has led me to yoga. I’ve toyed around with yoga as a way to stretch and meditate over the past couple of years, but now I am practicing a couple of times per week. I love how it leaves me feeling both mentally and physically. It has led me to a totally new idea that I am obsessed with – creating a yoga garden – a place in the garden that is designed to encourage and heighten my new yoga practice.

A serene garden scene with a gravel pathway leading to a wooden bench bathed in sunlight. Stone steps in the foreground are bordered by neatly trimmed hedges and trees adorned with hanging lanterns, perfect for transforming into a backyard yoga space. Lush greenery surrounds the area, creating a peaceful ambiance.
A yoga garden can be as simple as a peaceful (and flat) place to spread a mat and settle in – but with a little thought it can include plenty of elements to heighten your practice. Stone steps to a formal garden designed by @hootenlanddesign.

Ideas for a place to practice backyard yoga

I’ve been envisioning a garden with a variety of rooms, each with a different theme based on a yoga asana or pose. I just found out that Rochelle’s book has a whole chapter about this type of thing (and some of her ideas are below), but these are some of mine.

  • The sun salutation garden…
  • the animal poses garden…
  • the warrior poses garden…
  • the moon poses as a garden…
  • and the Chaturanga garden. (actually, I am not so sure about the Chaturanga garden, but I just like saying the name).

Rodney’s yoga garden

A top-down view of various succulents and cacti, including rosette-shaped agaves with gray-green spiky leaves and fine-textured needle-like plants, creating a dense and varied desert garden landscape in your backyard yoga studio.

Silver plants for a moon-inspired garden?

image @sacallage

A peaceful and dramatic moss garden with artful containers and black stones.

created and photographed by atelier te.

moss garden by atelier te at

In my design, the center of each garden would be an oval of stone paving or a wooden deck where yoga poses could be practiced. The surrounding plantings would be designed to be seen while in the pose. In the sun salutation garden, maybe there would be a deck overlooking a moss carpet floor. When you are “falling” forward into your bow, I imagine you would stare down at the moss.

The plantings could also have plants that play off of the name of the poses. In the moon poses garden, we could plant full-moon maple, and moonflower, along with silver plants that make the area look like you are on the surface of the moon.

You could slowly progress through this so that the garden becomes an experience and a yoga session at the same time.

The concept is still very raw, so feel free to share your ideas on how to improve it. I really want to build a garden like this in the near future, and this winter, I am studying the details and history of yoga to develop a deeper understanding of the practice. Please share your ideas and suggestions below. Thank you! Namaste.


Warrior pose in a yoga garden by By Adamov.

How To Design a Garden Place to Practice Yoga (from Rochelle):

Most of the time, when I enter a garden, my mind begins to settle. Unless, of course, that garden is my own, where often all I can see is an extensive and exhausting list of things I need to do.

For most people, though, entering a garden begins a mental passage from one state of mind to another, and in gardens specifically designed for relaxation, meditation, and the pursuit of serenity, the experience is magnified.

Through the ages, cultures of all sorts have used symbolism, geometry, color theory and a whole host of design tricks to shape surroundings that elicit emotion, provide platforms for calmness, and self-reflection, and help bodies and minds heal from the injury of everyday living. I’ve always thought that if your garden is comfortable and thoughtfully laid out, providing places to nap, eat, and rest, you have a pretty great start.

meditation garden
Creating a yoga garden could be as simple as setting an intention. This tiny yoga garden statue perched on a mossy rock may be all that is needed to shift the space’s purpose. Photo by Samuel Austin.

How to design a yoga garden

However, by taking cues from modern and ancient beliefs and methods, you can up the ante on creating that special place that soothes the soul—your soul.

Earth-based religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, paganism, and Taoism, as well as principles of feng-shui, yogic philosophy, and astrology, can all provide a wealth of ideas for symbolic gestures and design intentions.

Your meditation might involve walking and then require a labyrinth, or maybe you need a place to practice yoga or tai chi. It might also be a place to perform the ritual ceremonies of prayer or simply a place of contemplation, but a garden such as this is always a place to quiet your thoughts and gain an increased awareness of the rustling wind and green leaves that surround you.

Enclose and Create a Garden Place for Peace

Close the garden in and actively shut out the rest of the world.  This type of garden benefits from an enhanced entrance through which you must pass in order to arrive in this revered place.  The Japanese Torii, for example, is a gate that separates the profane from the sacrosanct.  

A lush garden features a stone pathway leading to a cozy seating area with a round table, two chairs, and a white umbrella. Greenery, including various shrubs and tall plants, surrounds the space. Several large potted plants and decorative stones complete this ideal backyard yoga studio.
“Gardens should have a richness and luxuriance that draws people into them,” – Jeffrey Bale
When creating your own backyard yoga space, aim to create outdoor spaces that appeal to all the senses.
Designed, built, and photographed by Jeffrey Bale.

Similarly this sunken garden creates a room, surrounded by earth that is protected.  An entrance and a transition symbolize passage from one state of mind to another so make it significant and make it notable. 

Make it Personal

Close your eyes and imagine a place where you feel safe, calm, comfortable, and at peace. 

What does that look like and feel like?

That vivid mental image is your special place.  While you are there, take a look around and make note of your surroundings.  For some it is the ocean, or a garden, or a childhood home. For me, it is a cabin in the mountains in a grove of quaking aspens.  Bring an element of your own special mental place into your real garden.  It will help you to connect with your own mental peace.

Go Natural with Materials

When seeking to get in touch with your inner self and the world around you, nothing seems more counterintuitive than filling the area with unnatural plastic and synthetic materials.  Ground yourself in the elemental qualities of raw materials like stone and wood. 

If you are making an outdoor yoga platform, don’t use synthetic decking. Composites are often hotter and feel like plastic. Your yoga deck will last longer with a range of hardwoods, or you can be kinder to your body and plant a small flat turf area or use stone.

A black-and-white illustration of a golden spiral overlaying a series of progressively smaller rectangles and quarter circles, demonstrating the Fibonacci sequence. The spiral, reminiscent of the calm found in a backyard yoga space, starts from the center and expands outward, maintaining precise proportions.

Fibonacci Spiral – The Golden Mean

A classic design tool for all sorts of designs will help you to strike balance and meaning in your designs.

A collection of sacred geometric patterns

By samiramay

A collection of ten abstract, geometric symbols drawn in brown ink. They vary in design, featuring circles, triangles, arrows, and intersecting lines, with some incorporating additional elements like dots, flames, or crescent shapes. Each symbol is distinct and complex—perfect for decorating your backyard yoga space.

Incorporate Sacred Geometry

Discover the meditative art of mandala making or endeavor to wrap your head around Phi proportions and The Golden Mean.  Sacred architecture is often full of hidden geometry that aims to mimic natural patterns and draw parallels between math, science, art, beauty, and spirituality. 

At the very least try incorporating basic rectangular ratios where the longer side to the shorter side is the golden ratio into your layouts to make the design feel balanced and aesthetically pleasing.

Planting Ideas for Yoga Gardening

Growing a plant from seed, nurturing its growth and it experiencing its full blooming expression is similar to the yogic practice of setting an intention, nurturing the practice and finally loving and accepting one’s own personal expression.  Additionally, gardening, like yoga, connects us to all things.  

Plant The Elements

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are frequently associated with the compass points (Earth- North, Air – East, Fire- South and Water – West). 

In order to plant a true elemental garden, you must choose plants that have associations with each of the elements and plant them generally in the appropriate direction.  

This is a bit tedious, but recognizing the associations of plants when choosing what you grow is a nice way to familiarize yourself with what you are growing and give your garden special meaning. If you are the creative type, you can make all sorts of associations, but here are some that have been carried through history. 

A botanical illustration labeled "Earth Element Garden Plants" displays three types of herbs ideal for a yoga garden: marjoram with small oval leaves, mint with broad green leaves, and sage with elongated leaves and a purple flower. The image is credited to Pith + Vigor.

The Earth Element represents stability and security; plants with similar associations include cattails, cinquefoil, and honeysuckle. 

A collection of plant illustrations labeled as "Water Inspired Garden Plants," featuring a willow branch with narrow leaves, a purple iris flower, and a cluster of white yarrow flowers. Perfect for envisioning your yoga garden, the text "Pith + Vigor" is at the bottom of the image.

The Earth Element represents stability and security; plants with similar associations include cattails, cinquefoil, and honeysuckle. 

An image featuring labeled garden plants against a white background. The plants include rosemary with its needle-like leaves, strawberry with its red berries and white flowers, and basil with its green and purple leaves. The label "FIRE GARDEN PLANTS" is at the top, perfect for a serene backyard yoga space.

Fire is associated with passion and plants of the same association include basil, strawberries, and Rosemary. 

An image showcasing three types of air garden plants labeled with their names, perfect for a serene yoga garden. From left: Cat Tail Reeds with tall, slender green stalks and brown cylindrical tops; Shrubby Cinquefoil with small white flowers; and Honeysuckle with pink and yellow tubular flowers.

The Air element represents wisdom and knowledge; plants with similar associations include sage, marjoram and mint. 

Plant the Chakras

In metaphysical traditions, Chakras are the centers of prana, life force or vital energy.  Chakras are frequently mapped to the human body and are often described in colors.  Planting by the chakras would, therefore, be to choose plants according to color and similar symbolism to the chakra.  

Red for the Root Chakra

Vibrant red leaves on a branch stand out against a clear blue sky, creating a striking contrast between the warm and cool colors. The leaves are oval-shaped, and their rich hue hints at the autumn season, making it an ideal backdrop for a rejuvenating backyard yoga session.
Deep red oval-shaped leaves of the Cotinus tree (also known as Smoke bush). Image by hisgett.
A close-up of vibrant red and orange Japanese maple leaves during autumn in a serene backyard yoga space. The blurred green background highlights the intricate details and rich colors of the foliage, capturing the delicate, lacy texture of the leaves as they gently reach outward.
Japanese Maple leaves image by Tambako the Jaguar.
A vibrant cluster of coleus leaves with a mix of bright pink and yellow-green colors graces the yoga garden. The textured leaves display intricate veining, creating a striking contrast between the colors. Lush foliage fills the scene, showcasing the plant's vivid hues in this serene backyard yoga sanctuary.
Vibrant red coleus leaves. Image by Jam343.

The Root chakra is colored red. You do not need to pick purely by flower, red can be found in leaves and berries as well. 

Orange Plants for the Sacral Chakra

Close-up of vibrant orange lilies in full bloom. The flowers have large, velvety petals with a slightly darker orange center. The background features scattered white petals on green grass, creating a visually appealing contrast with the bright lilies, perfect for a peaceful yoga garden setting.
Vibrant orange Daylilies. Image by kikisdad.
A close-up of a vibrant orange rose in full bloom, petals slightly curled at the edges creating a layered, delicate appearance. Set in a serene yoga garden, the blurred green foliage in the background makes this exquisite flower the central focus of this tranquil image.
Coral orange rose image by Satheesh k.
A close-up view of vibrant red poppies growing in a yoga garden, showcasing their delicate petals and dark centers. The green stems and unopened buds are visible among the flowers, creating a lively and colorful natural scene.
Vibrant orange poppies. Image by Karen_roe.

The sacral chakra is focused on sensuality and self esteem and is colored orange.  Consider choosing plants that not only have the color but also a romantic perfume. 

Yellow Plants for the Manipura Chakra

A cluster of bright yellow and orange Coreopsis flowers on thin green stems stands out brilliantly, their vibrant petals accentuating the tranquil setting perfect for garden yoga. The blurred background enhances the natural beauty of these wildflowers, making it an ideal spot for backyard yoga.
Tickseed – Coreopsis. Image by 775491103@N00.

>>> See Also 50 Natives: Nebraska: Coreopsis (varieties) – Tickseed

A cluster of vibrant yellow flowers with red centers surrounded by dark green leaves. The flowers are small and densely packed, creating a bright contrast against the foliage—a perfect backdrop for your garden yoga practice.
Golden colored porulaga flowers. image by araswami.
Close-up of witch hazel branches in bloom. The branches are adorned with clusters of vibrant yellow, spidery petals with red centers against a blurred, natural background. The intricate flowers have a starburst appearance, perfect for creating a serene yoga garden ambiance.
Fragrant yellow blooms of the yellow witch hazel shrub. Image by wlcutler.

>>>See also The Common American Native Witch Hazel: Hamamelis virginiana

Manipura or the chakra of the solar plexus is yellow.  It supports our personality, humor and ability to have a good laugh.  Pick plants for their bright happiness. 

Green Plants for the Heart Chakra

A close-up of lush, green moss covering a surface, forming a dense, textured landscape. The moss appears vibrant and healthy, with varying shades of green and small clusters creating a natural, undulating pattern—an ideal backdrop for a serene backyard yoga space.
Moss. Image by cathibaber.

>>> See also Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Garden Moss (+ didn’t want)

Close-up of a plant with clusters of small green flowers, each displaying a small red center. The image captures the intricate and lively arrangement of the blossoms against a lush green background, making it an ideal setting for backyard yoga amidst nature's vibrant beauty.
Euphorbia image by kiwinz.
Close-up of a cluster of green succulent plants with their rosette-shaped leaves. The leaves have a slightly serrated edge with a hint of pinkish-red at the tips, creating a textured and vibrant pattern, perfect for setting a tranquil backyard yoga space. The background is filled with more of the same greenery.
Sedum. Image by jenorton.

The heart chakra is green and it evokes harmony, peace and love.  If I were to make a meditation garden for myself, I would focus on this alone, forgoing all floral brightness for the peace and calm of simple green. 

Blue Plants for the Fifth (Throat or vishuddha) Chakra

Close-up image of light purple hydrangea flowers in bloom. The petals are delicate and have a soft texture, with subtle variations in color. The background is blurred, highlighting the intricate details of the flowers in the foreground, perfect for creating a serene backyard yoga space.
Blue hydrangea flowers by adalau.
Close-up of a blue and purple thistle flower against a blurred green background. The flower has spiky, radial petals extending outward with a central cone that appears textured and is covered with tiny florets—perfect scenery for some tranquil garden yoga.
Blue-colored thistle flower eryingium. image by paul-w-locke.
Close-up of a purple flower in bloom, bathed in soft sunlight. The background features blurred greenery and more flowers, creating a serene yoga garden setting. The delicate petals and intricate details of the flower are prominently displayed, evoking the tranquility of a backyard yoga space.
Agapanthus flowers. Image by harrisonturner.

Communication and the color blue are associated with the fifth chakra.  This can be symbolized in plants, but also perhaps with the flow of a water feature. 

Purple Plants for the Third Eye Chakra

A cluster of tall, purple liatris flowers bloom in a garden, bathed in sunlight. The flowers have elongated, spiky blossoms atop green, leafy stems, creating a vibrant display. The background is slightly blurred, focusing attention on the vivid flowers in the foreground of a serene backyard yoga space.
Liatris (gayfeather). Image by dbarronoss.

>>>See Also Spiky Liatris Spicata – Prairie Gay Feather Spices up the Garden

Close-up of dark purple Heuchera leaves covered in water droplets, perfect for a serene backyard yoga space. The ruffled texture adds to the dense and lush look, with a background of partially blurred greenery enhancing the tranquil vibe.
Heuchera – obsidian coral bells. image from 123rf.
A vibrant bouquet of purple irises with yellow accents on the petals is set against a blurred, green, and bokeh-filled background. The flowers' petals are delicately arranged, showcasing their bright and lively colors—perfect for enhancing your backyard yoga sessions with nature's beauty.
Purple flag Irises Image by vsanderson.

Indigo and deep purple represent the chakra of the third eye or the brow. Complex plants or highly geometric plants represent the focus on intuition and thinking. 

White Plants for the Crown Chakra

5 plants to sow in the fall for next summer - Upland White Aster
Upland white asters.

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A cluster of white thunbergia with dark centers surrounded by lush green foliage. In a charming garden style, the blooms feature five petals each, creating a striking contrast against the deep, textured leaves. The flowers are evenly spread throughout the plant, adding to the overall beauty of the scene.
Thunbergia (image from Proven Winners)

The crown chakra centers on spirituality and divinity and encompasses all the colors – so it is generally depicted as white.  Translucence and light reflection can also be played with to make this symbolic reference. 

Other Backyard Yoga Garden Design Elements

Inspired By Air

Air gardens are full of movement and light.  The wind rustles through trees and plants, and they sway and dance. There are open views of the sky, chimes played by the wind and tiny creatures who happily buzz about.   Incorporate things that encourage thought and ideas.  Art and swings are lovely additions to air gardens. 

Colorful flags of various shapes and sizes are attached to tall poles, creating a vibrant display. Arranged in rows amidst lush greenery, the scene resembles a tranquil backyard yoga space, suggesting a natural, outdoor setting possibly in a garden or park.
Prayer flags are one way to add the element of air. image by Pete

Enjoy Making a Water Garden

Flowing lines (nothing straight) and quiet contemplation characterize a water garden.  A stream, a pond filled with Koi or a fountain will quiet outside noises with their trickles. Moss and lush dampness will ground the space. 

Lotus flowers, symbolic of water and its flow, can be used in all sort of decorative motifs. 

Whites, both in flower and furniture, soothe and grottos, caves, and earthy damp places provide a calming coolness. 

lotus flower for a yoga garden
Lotus Flower photo by Ilyuza Mingazova

Fire gardens

Fire gardens endeavor to be suntraps.  They have fireplaces, are dressed in red and maybe even embrace thorny plants.  They are passionate and ready for action.  Actual fire elements can come in a variety of forms from torches, to fire burning bowls to incense burners.  

Adding the warmth and soul of fire to your garden can be accomplished in a variety of ways.   There are three main ways to achieve the fire effect and you may find that for planning reasons or others that some are not an option and others might be more suitable in your situation. 

  • Open Natural Wood Fire – The basic option is the same one that Neanderthals used.  It is however banned in many places for air quality and fire safety reasons.  Wood fires can be made in all sorts of vessels or even on the ground within a fire ring. 
  • Gel Fire – Typically used in urban areas, gel fires are much like a can of cooking sterno.  They come in a variety of forms, and because of the cleanliness of the fire (no sooty smoke), the complete flexibility of placement, and the ability to control the size of the flame, they lend themselves to applications where a modern look is desired. Or, perhaps you just want a tiny fire feature that you can put just about anywhere. Considered a green option, these fires are easy to light, require no venting, and you can add aromatics to the fuel to create a scented fire. 
  • Gas Fire—Gas fires are typically piped into a home’s gas main and thus can be lit with a flip of a switch. The installation expense is not insignificant, and the practicalities of running lines can also be a design challenge that makes the placement of these fires tricky. The upside is that you don’t need to refuel. 
A collection of lit candles in small, round metal holders are arranged in neat rows, illuminating a backyard yoga space. The candles emit a warm, glowing light, creating an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. The background is dark, emphasizing the brightness of the flames.
If all else fails, candles are the easiest and least expensive way to add the fire element to your garden. Butter lamps are lit in the small temple on the way to Taktsang – image by ahinsahjain

Earth-Based Garden Design Ideas

Ground yourself in earthy gardens.  Orchards and vegetable patches are obvious types of earth gardens, but so too are those that incorporate earthy elements like twig art, wood and trees, and earthenware like Hypertufa.  A sunken area, where literally, the earth more significantly surrounds you, is often a place where we feel particularly stable and secure. 

Posts to help you create peace, balance, and hallowed space in your landscape:

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  1. I definitely love this idea! For my part, I would add slightly perfumed plants to the design.

  2. Julie says:

    Love it! Sounds like the makings of a retreat center. I’m a yoga teacher and have fantasized about having a nature-based set-up for classes when unable to practice outside. For your garden: definitely wood platforms, not stone—pretty but impractical for real practice. Moon poses=white flowers, twinkle lights for evening practice. Animal asanas=topiaries (I’m not a huge fan, but would be fun for kids). Sun salute poses=the obvious sunflower garden? Warrior= arching, reaching, tall plants, like bamboo,(strong and flexible) or aspens (think Tree pose). Savasana=a winter garden, at rest. Have fun and let us see what you come up with!

  3. Chris says:

    YEAH baby, I think I have a foot or two left of space around here somewhere, LOL. (I have us all gardened out…) I think my wife would appreciate this as much as I would. May just have to give it a go.

  4. Eric Teske says:

    Hmmm cool concept! I could see it more as a calendar photoshoot than an actual place to do yoga, but I like the idea of the poses driving the plant selection and design.

  5. Calvin Kent says:

    concept is so good.The picture you using that is great.Great post!! very informative.

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