No, it’s not the name of the hippest new drink in the bar scene … Doing yoga on the beach, especially during the offseason at sunrise or sunset, can be a spiritual experience. Plus, just the thought of it conjures up images of gorgeous, svelte yoginis perfected with filters and/or inspirational typography on Instagram and Pinterest in full scorpion, complete with crashing waves in the background.
Reality check: in the summer, the beach is hot, populated, noisy, humid, and did I mention extremely hot? The sand is not stable, making balancing poses like dancer much more difficult than the lovely hardwood flooring we are all papered with at yoga studios and/or your living space. The sand closest to the shore is harder and more dense, making for a better surface than sand way up near the dunes (if your beach is on the east coast).
Two weekends ago, I drove an hour and a half from Richmond, VA to Virginia Beach for the sole purpose of doing yoga on the beach. Unfortunately, it was FREEZING, about to rain, and very cloudy. I did get a picture of me forcing a smile in side crow and a nice panorama of my possibly least favorite backbend, full wheel. This day, coupled with one failed attempt and few successful practices at my mother’s beach house on the North Carolinan coast last year, has enabled me to acquire some working knowledge as to what works and what doesn’t work on the sand.
After some hands-on training and work in the field, I will share with you some valuable tips and tricks to make yoga on the beach easy and fun:
Get the right equipment. If you practice on the sand, grass, or carpet often, I’m about to blow your mind: LifeBoard is a solid and portable floor. It fits together like pieces of a puzzle and will keep that sand from interfering with your balancing asanas.
Next, you’ll need a closed cell performance mat that won’t get sandy, is thick enough for adequate joint protection, and will keep sweaty and sandy hands and feet from slipping all around. My recommendation is the Dragonfly Performance Pro Yoga Mat. Just rinse or wipe off for easy cleaning. Yoga Rugs are also great for outdoors. I always use a Yoga Blanket or the mat-sized alternative, the Yoga Rug, for added comfort. And by the way, I always wear Dragonfly Yoga Apparel and wear Injinji 1,000 Mile Five Toe Running Socks. I catagorize appropriate activewear under equipment. My word of advice is to always dress in layers and wear a great sports bra. You must always be able to have complete freedom in your movements.
Sunrise, Sunset. Unless you make a lot of money and have the luxury of owning part of a private beach you are going to have mobs of screaming children, strange men staring at you, an insane amount of noise, and everything else that comes out from 9 am until about 7-8 pm. Tranquility is not an option. You won’t get any kind of effective practice in a sea of distractions. At the break of dawn is my preferred time of day to practice on the beach (less humid, less people. The only ones out are shell-pickers).
To prep for a morning practice before your vaycay, wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual to stretch out and wake up your body with an energizing DVD -- my personal favorite is Rodney Yee’s AM/PM Yoga for Beginners. Waking up early on vacation gives you more time for activities during the day. Instead of sleeping my free time away, I drink coffee before anyone else does. Then I bring my dog Penny with me to the shore, spread out, and get lost in countless sun salutations. If you have a buddy with you, you can shoot some amazing photos.
Plan Ahead. Familiarize yourself with the simple 12-step sequencing of Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutations. You will get an excellent practice in by doing Sun Salutations alone. Or, while in the down-dog portion of Surya Namaskara, come into a transitional pose, like a lung or countless other asanas. Just remember to repeat every pose on each side of the body, keeping your balance.