Now that I lived a block away from the ocean, I had the “perfect” idea for a yoga class! Yup, with mat and towel under my arm, I confidently strode off to Milepost 54, just across the street from Ocean Walk on A1A in Jupiter. And of course, I brought an extra mat, just in case a passerby wanted to join me at 7 am on a Sunday morning.
It was actually cool out, and I could see the sun rising quickly above the horizon, rays shimmering on the water and a fairly strong current pushing the waves to meet the shoreline. There were people already strolling along the beach, and dog walkers and their furry companions, some taking an early morning splash in to the water.
No problem. I decided to put my beach towel down first, having read somewhere that getting sand off your yoga mat is far worse than picking off hitchhikers from wool socks. Oops, the towel I brought wasn’t long enough. Thought to self, bring a larger one next time.
I proceeded with some reclined and seated gentle stretches and poses. The breeze on my skin felt really nice. The dogs running by me and scattering sand on me, not so nice. But they were happy to be free and running around. And I was happy to take my practice outside and listen to the rhythm of the waves as my music.
I moved on to standing poses and balance poses. Ahem, it’s a bit more challenging on the sand, for every time you move, the foundation beneath you shifts and changes. Your body and muscles must continually adapt, which work the fascia in a more significant way than on a hard surface. The sand helps build secondary muscles of the feet, hips, knees, spine and shoulders. And my body let me know it just a bit the next day.
I began a series of Sun Salutations, and quite honestly, I was getting pretty caught up in the magic and grace of practicing by the ocean, despite the occasional stare or smile from people around. But the next day, I did find that my wrists were a bit tender. Note to self, limit the quantity of Vinyasas as the wrists tend to sink in the sand. Or perhaps, bind the wrists with bandanas so that the tendon hugs closer to the bone. Standing balance poses of all kinds were very challenging, and my drishti, i.e, the ocean, kept moving as well. Yeah, my dancer pose, looked a little disco. But truth be told, my standing Warrior poses were rockin! Probably because you can dig your feet down in to the sand which acts as a support and brace.
Building strength, muscle toning that surpasses the inside class, sand that is more gentle to knees and joints, the sounds of the waves, birds and breeze as your music, challenge, fun, sun and Vitamin D, fresh air, nature as your landscape, happy dogs, happy people…so many benefits to yoga by the ocean!
They all outweigh a little sand between your toes, up your nose or wherever it blows…
Additionally, a recent Norwegian study (Rapid Gene Expression Changes in Peripheral Lymphocytes upon Practice of a Comprehensive Yoga Program, 2013) found that practicing yoga changes the expression of 111 genes in the immune cells. So combine yoga with the healing effects of the sea, it’s like a double shot of expresso healing for the body! And did I mention that fresh air by the sea increases oxygen intake + iodine, improves metabolism AND increases Serotonin in the brain?! Yowza, this is all good stuff!
Well, three Sunday mornings in, and still no takers to join me. I will add a blog when it is “standing room only.” In the meantime, the waves are calling you! So just show up one Sunday morning. I’ll be waiting for you, my adventurous friends and yogis!