There may be no better place than the beach for a great yoga session. You can sink into the warm (and exfoliating) sand, breathe in sync with the ever-undulating beat of the waves, and enjoy the bright sun shining on your skin. You're connecting with nature and all of the peace the beach radiates.
But if you’ve ever done a beach yoga session before, you probably know just how easily it can become more of a chore and frustration than a joy. To get the most out of your session in the sand, a few tips are key.
1. Go early.
Rise and shine with some sunrise salutations! Getting up early for beach yoga proves well worth it, regardless of whether you’re a morning person or not. The air will be crisper and lighter, and the sun won’t be beating down on you yet, either. You’ll also be able to connect to the natural world and relax into your practice far better than when there are volleyball players, surfers, kids, and tourists all over to distract you later in the day. If you’re simply not a morning person, go for an evening session.
2. Wear sunscreen.
Protect your beautiful skin. Opt for waterproof or sweat-proof sunscreen to avoid a painful drip in the eye during downward dog.
Beach yoga can turn into Bikram yoga really fast; and that's great - if you're well-hydrated. Make sure to drink up before you hit the beach and have a big water bottle at your side for any water breaks you may need throughout your practice.
4. Switch your yoga mat for a towel or blanket.
Your mat is going to slide all over the place in the sand, and if it’s a high-quality yoga mat, you don’t want to damage it with abrasions from the sand, anyway. Opt for a beach towel or blanket instead, and allow the change of materials to further relax your practice. This is beach yoga – don’t feel like you have to do some crazy inversions or variations (though if you’re feeling it, go for it – the sand is very forgiving to falls!).
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5. Warm up with a walking meditation.
Take a brief walk before easing into your practice. As you walk, be mindful of the temperature, the breeze, the color of the ocean, and the life that surrounds you here. Feel the sand in your toes, feel your body waking up, feel the wind against your skin. (For a brief guide on walking meditation, check out Meditation Oasis' overview here.)
6. Breathe with the waves.
In his book "Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do," Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols says we all have a "blue mind." He defines this as “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment." You tap into this mindstate when you're near water. Allow the steady rhythm of the ocean’s push and pull to lull you into your own natural, rhythmic breathing and blue mind. Connect with the ocean. Rejoice in its constant presence, in its vastness, in its strength. Adopt it as your own.
7. Welcome interruptions and imperfection.
So, this one's key. You’re outdoors in public, and depending on what beach you choose, interruptions are a big possibility. Whether it’s someone’s dog nudging you with a wet nose, sand in your eyes, or a not-so-nice surprise from a seagull, embrace the interruptions and imperfection. You’re at the beach and you’re doing yoga to enjoy yourself, your body, and the gorgeous natural world that surrounds you. Enjoy all of it, even if that means a less-than-perfect practice.
8. Float for your savasana.
After your practice has ended and you’ve allowed each muscle and joint to sink into the sand, move your savasana to the water. Wade into the ocean and, if the tides agree, float for a while. (So be sure to wear your swimsuit!)
9. Enjoy where you are.
Ultimately, yoga is a practice that brings us back to ourselves, the present, and the world around us. Don’t just go to the beach, do your yoga session, and then hop back into your car and head home. Stay a while and let yourself truly enjoy it, moment to moment.
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