Truth be told, practicing beach yoga in San Diego is what really got me “hooked” on yoga. I would walk home after my weekly outdoor practice with a big smile plastered to my face and a new outlook and clear perspective on my day. That might sound like the typical aftermath feeling of everyone’s yoga practice, but let me explain how it is so much more.
The experience of practicing yoga outside, with the ocean in front you, the sun on your face, and the ocean air to breathe is incredibly refreshing. Your body craves the pure oxygen, is drawn to the beautiful views, and appreciates the energizing boost of vitamin D from the sun. The peaceful feeling and deep respect that comes from interacting with the environment inspires and empowers you to get outside more – because it feels good!
Simply moving your mat outside adds quite a few challenges to your practice as well. The uneven terrain challenges your balance and core work. Every posture is brought to the next level, and small musculature adjustments throughout your whole body need to happen in order to maintain alignment and balance. If holding a handstand on solid, flat ground in the studio is easy, take your mat outside once a week to deepen your practice; you won’t be disappointed with the challenge.
In yoga class, teachers often speak about gratitude. Sometimes the comments might resonate with you, other times they might not. Beach yoga fills up your cup with gratitude…better yet, your cup is simply overflowing with gratitude by the end of class. Rather than think about gratitude as a broad idea or intention for class, gratitude is simply woven into the experience of soaking up such a gorgeous and heart warming experience: yoga outdoors. I am constantly thinking, “Wow this is my life, how lucky am I?” It’s easy to forget that we live in a breathtaking paradise, but a great way to remember that your life is real and you are in fact the one living this incredibly beautiful life is to try a beach yoga class.
Not only is the outdoor yoga experience awe inspiring, it also serves as a great reminder of how yoga began: outside in the elements, teacher to student, with the breath being the foundation of the whole practice. Students feel more inspired to take full inhalations of fresh ocean air at the beach. This provides clean oxygen to the body and will help to energize you all day long. Additionally, simply seeing the majestic and strong mountains as you hold mountain pose (tadasana) helps remind students to be strong, stable, and bold like a mountain. Balancing in tree pose (vrksasana) can often be humbling; however, while holding tree pose and simultaneously witnessing the trees sway in the wind, students are reminded that their tree might sway and that it’s fine, they can still be strong.
Beach yoga is tranquil and challenging. An outdoor yoga practice will leave you feeling more connected to your environment. It will force gratitude upon you, as it is impossible to not feel grateful for such a wonderful experience. Oceanfront sunset yoga in Hawaii, does it get any better?
Laura Mary Flynn, Master of Public Health (MPH) and certified yoga instructor teaches private yoga (at your home), corporate yoga (at your office), studio classes (at Power Yoga Hawaii in Kahala), and sunset beach yoga (at Magic Island every Thursday night 5:30pm). Please visit her website for the beach yoga location (www.lauramaryflynn.com/yoga/beach-yoga/). Laura Mary is the editor-in-chief of Laura Mary Healthy Living (www.lauramaryflynn.com/newsletter). Email Laura Mary with any inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org.