Yoga on the beach ~ a beautiful phrase including two words that just ooze relaxation and boost retreat package sales mid-January. Most of us who practice yoga here in the western world are used to classes held in immaculate studios, on solid wooden floors and sticky mats, where we can go and work up a real sweat. Don’t get me wrong – yoga on the beach can be incredible and inspiring, but also, well…dirty. The sun salutation, a staple move in most yoga classes, regularly involves your hands on the floor, then your hands over head – and when sand is involved, that might mean sand in your eyes, too, leading to an experience not as refreshing as you might want, perhaps even a frustrating one.
As a yoga teacher growing up on the coast of Maine, lucky enough to teach and take yoga classes on different beaches around the world, I want to share some tips with you to make your yoga on the beach experience doable and enjoyable.
* Use a beach towel, or nothing at all: If you bring your sticky mat to the beach, you’ll ruin it. Using a beach towel can work for some postures, mostly seated ones, but after a while, you’re feet will start to make their own holes in the sand, and the towel will prove useless in a short while. Stick your tootsies right in the sand, and feel its texture between your toes!
* Take in your surroundings: Don’t underestimate meditation, or at least some stillness and silence. Most likely if you’re on vacation, you’re looking for some of those two things. It’s important to rest while you’re on holiday – packing every hour with something new can leave you feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation at the end. Sit comfortably on a towel (or right in the sand!) and simply begin by listening to your own breath, as it is with no control or manipulation. Then take in the sounds around you, the ocean, the fauna, then the smells, the feel of the cool sand beneath you, its support and its softness…
* Best postures to try: Stable, standing postures are great for beach yoga. This keeps your hands out of the sand, and also allows for you to practice finding a stable base on a different environment. Try long holds in postures like Warrior I and II, tree pose, eagle pose, goddess, dancer’s pose, and triangle pose. Breath slowly and deeply, and gaze out over the horizon. Once your hands touch the sand, you probably either want to keep them their, or at least keep them below your head. Headstands, handstands or backbends should be kept for the end, before you jump into the water. Also beware that your base is not as stable as it would be in a studio, but the landing is softer!
* Practice non-attachment: Do not be discouraged if you can not complete your regular yoga practice, or if you can not get your usual workout in. Yoga on the beach is a different animal, more about slowness and stability, patience and surrender. It’s just a chance to take in your surroundings through your senses, get some oxygen, and maybe a little stretching in.
* Play! Make up your own poses, use palm-trees, funky rock outcroppings, or even the water to make your practice fun and new. If you’re having fun, you can’t do it wrong. It’s always good to practice not taking yourself so seriously!
* Dive in: After you practice, a jump into the sea to rinse off any sweat or sand, as well as merge yourself with the powerful and transformational energy of mama ocean!
More on this guest writer
Adena Harford is the travel blog editor for the tripwolf travel blog who is a regular contributor to #BeachThursday. Aside from being a travel blogger, she has been studying and teaching yoga for 8 years around the world as well as at her home-base in Burlington, VT. She ties her yoga practice in with the study of Ayurveda, and ancient Indian system of medicine. Learn more about Adena’s yoga and Ayurveda here.
Photo Credit: Morgan Maassen