What could be more blissful in life than practicing yoga on the beach?
In some ways, the sand between your toes and under the palms of your hands creates extra challenge for your postures, which is great. And let’s not forget you’ve got a gorgeous ocean breeze making vriksasana, tree pose, harder and a shifting “floor” beneath you as waves roll on and off the shore, which can really change our concept of “grounding.”
I’m already blissed-out just thinking about my next beach yoga session.Crane Beach, Barbados (May 2012)
If a vacation and a beach is in your near future, here are a couple of things to keep in mind for your optimal and safe yoga enjoyment in such a beautiful environment:
Pay extra attention to placement.
Since sand is shifting and uneven, you’re asking your muscles and joints to do different work than in a studio environment. Be mindful to place, align and place the wiggly parts of your body, e.g., joints, at the top of your mind.
• Warriors I & II—Grounding the outer edge of your back foot is key to protecting your inner knee. It’ll be easy for the sand to allow your arch to cave forward, so reconnect with that outer edge. See how evenly you can ground your front foot, making sure the knee is not past the front of the ankle. It’ll be easy to lose perspective on your stance with shifting sands.
• Arm balances—Arm balancing is challenging already, but more so if your wrists are twisting and bending to accommodate the sand and waves, which might also create some stress for the elbows and shoulders too. Maybe try firm books on dry sand underneath the hands for more stability in the base of the balance. If shift is happening, shorten your time in the arm balance— holding three breaths is good, unless you really feel stable and safe for longer.
Transition with clarity.
Going from one pose to another, give yourself a little extra time, especially if you’re used to a fast-paced vinyasa class or non-heated class. This will give your body more time to adjust and be safe as you move from one pose to another.
You’ll also be adjusting to the power of the sun and heat. You might fall, true, but have fun doing it. After all, you’re landing on sand, so it’s all good times.
Breathe it all in.
There is nothing like the feeling of uniting mind with body as you exist within your environment.
• Outdoor yoga of any kind is humbling. As you move, acknowledge your little slice of the world.
• And, there are some studies that show breathing in the salty mist from the ocean helps clear up sinuses and strengthens the respiratory system—another reason to breathe deeply while doing yoga on the beach. Watch this report on CBSNews.com.
Christine Chen is a two-time Emmy winning, 10-time nominated broadcast journalist, turned small business owner, turned yoga teacher in New York at community-focused NY Loves Yoga and at nationally-recognized fitness provider, David Barton Gym.
12 years ago she came to yoga to manage a variety of health problems, including spinal degeneration and stress. She’s an RYT200 from Seattle’s Yogalife and RYT500 via Om Yoga Center in New York, studying under Cyndi Lee. Special training includes Yoga for Stress Management with Gary Krafstow at Kripalu and Back Care with New York’s Yoga Union under the direction of Alison West and Deborah Wolk.
Christine is also the Director of Communications for Yoga for NY, a non-profit organization that provides an organized voice on issues facing the yoga industry. With the group’s leadership team, she works with government to help champion sustainable business practices for studios and teachers, so yoga can survive in small and large studios throughout New York state.
Christine has written about wellness for The Well Daily and Crave Company. Soon, she will release a yoga guidebook for busy people, based on the personal yoga practice she developed during her own healing and transformation.
Off the mat, Christine is a wife, golden retriever mom, and Microsoft’s corporate web caster on tech topics.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas
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