10 Beach Yoga Poses
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
Growing up spending my Summers at Myrtle Beach, I have developed a list of my favorite beach yoga poses. The beach is my favorite place to practice yoga, and I still spend my Summers practicing yoga on the beach. It's a tradition I've passed on to my daughters and we all enjoy the benefits of beach yoga poses. I've realized you experience the same benefits and sensations of the posture that you would anywhere else, but you have the added magic of the beach and its accompanying sensations.
I'm not the only one who loves yoga at the beach. Terri Jo Lennox of Travel Time Agency says that when many people plan a trip to St. John's, many of them plan to practice yoga on the beach. Finding beautiful beaches for yoga is often part of the checklist when yogis are choosing travel destinations. This comes as no surprise as yoga on the beach is peaceful and fulfilling, allowing you to come into the present moment. This is one of the reasons people look for beach yoga when choosing a yoga retreat.
Sukhasana, Easy Pose, is one of my favorite beach yoga poses. Sitting comfortably in the sand, it really fosters mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. When sitting in Easy Pose on the beach, you can't help but notice the parts of the skin that are in contact with the sand beneath you. You hear the waves crashing against the shore and you smell the fresh ocean breeze. Noticing all of these sensations is the ideal way to come into the present moment. This type of mindfulness is an amazing way to start a beach yoga practice.
To practice Easy Pose on the beach, come into a comfortable cross legged seated position. Sit up nice and tall, lengthening through the crown of the head. If you would typically use blocks or a blanket, you can always create props with the sand to support you. Bringing extra sand underneath you can help the pelvis to stay neutral in this posture. Bringing sand under the knees may also be helpful.
Ashta Chandrasana, High Lunge Pose, is another great beach yoga pose. It's a standing posture, so it gives your toes the opportunity to sink into the sand. If you practice close to the water, you may feel the water glide onto your feet or ankles. Standing tall, you're able to catch some Vitamin D while in High Lunge Pose. There is something most invigorating about this posture of strength on the beach. You're strengthening the front leg while lengthening the back.
To practice High Lunge Pose on the beach, step the right foot between the hands from downward facing dog. Stay up on the back left toes. Bend the front knee, coming as close to a ninety degree angle as feels comfortable in your body. Lengthen the back leg. Stretch the arms up overhead. Take the slightest tuck of the tailbone to lengthen the spine as you engage the core. Keep the chest lifted. Hold here for a few breaths and then reverse directions to get this on the other side.
Virabhadrasana I, Warrior I Pose, is a strong standing posture that you can practice on the beach. This beach yoga pose is a popular posture for beach yoga pose pictures. It's expansive nature looks great in photos and captures the strength in the pose. Like High Lunge Pose and other standing beach yoga poses, it gives you the opportunity to dig your feet into the earth, maybe playing with the sand in your toes. With the arms overhead, you can take some deep breaths and take in all of those good ocean air vibes.
To practice Warrior I pose on the beach, you would step the right foot between the hands from downward facing dog. Spin the back left foot flat. Bend the right knee to as close to ninety degrees as feels comfortable in your body. Keep the back leg lengthening. The hips square off to the front as much as they possibly can. Send the arms up overhead and keep the chest lifted. Stay here for a few breaths and then reverse directions to practice this beach yoga pose on the left side.
Warrior II pose is a beautiful standing hip opener for the beach. This beach yoga pose gives you the space to breathe deeply while strengthening the legs and the arms. As the hips open, you release all that is no longer serving you and you find a peaceful space in your own body.
To practice Warrior II pose on the beach, from Warrior I Pose, open the hips, stacking the shoulders over the hips and send the arms out wide to the sides. Keep the collar bones spreading wide and seal off through the edges of the feet.
Reverse Warrior Pose is a gorgeous pose for beach yoga. This is another pose that you see in beach yoga pose photographs quite often. Something about opening the side body on the beach feels very liberating. The air can brush up against the skin as you open up through the side, lengthening and lifting. The legs are strengthening and the feet get a little massage in the sand. With the mindfulness practice that beach yoga brings, you have the opportunity to notice all the sensations, big and small.
To practice Reverse Warrior Pose on the beach, from Warrior II, keep what you have in the legs. The right leg remains bent with the right knee over the right ankle. The back left leg is long and strong. Seal off through the outer edge of the back left foot. Flip the front palm to the sky. On an inhale, reverse your warrior, lifting your right arm up and then reaching back as you come into a side bend. Let the left hand fall somewhere on the outside of the left leg. Remain here for a few breaths. When you're ready, reverse directions so you can practice this with the left foot forward.
Warrior III Pose is a fun beach yoga pose. A balancing pose, it can be challenging to balance in the sand with the uneven ground beneath you. This extra challenge calls for a lighthearted approach to warrior III. I recommend keeping the stabilizing leg slightly bent and buoyant.
The best way to practice Warrior III pose on the beach is to begin in High Lunge Pose. Start to get light in the back left foot as you shift your weight forward into the right foot. Pause for length and then start to bring the body as close to parallel to the earth as possible. The hands can remain at the heart or you might choose to spread the arms wide or reach both arms towards the front of the space, biceps by the ears. Hold here and breathe for a few moments before practicing this beach yoga pose with the left foot forward.
Tree Pose is always a fun challenge on the beach. Much like Warrior III pose, the balancing aspect of the pose has an added layer of difficulty on the beach because the ground beneath you is not flat. Approach tree pose on the beach with a smile and embrace the wobbles. If you fall out of the pose, remember that it isn't a big deal.
To practice Tree Pose on the beach, begin in mountain pose. Shift the weight into the right foot. The sole of the left foot comes to the inside of the right leg, either at the ankle, just below the knee or high up the thigh. Be careful not to place the left foot on the right knee joint. Once you choose the placement for your left foot, root down through the right foot, grow tall through the crown of the head and send the arms up overhead. Stay here for a few breaths and then release and practice this beach yoga pose on the other side.
Dancer Pose is my favorite of all beach yoga poses. The upbend of the chest in this posture offers so much freedom and space. The added balance challenge makes this pose fun and the stretch through the hip flexors feels sweet and juicy. When practicing dancer pose on the beach, I find that I hold the pose even longer than I normally would because it feels so good with the breeze from the ocean and the sunlight adding to the experience.
To practice Dancer Pose on the beach, begin in tree pose. Start to move the left foot away from the right inner thigh and turn the left knee towards the front of the mat, bringing the left foot behind you. Reach back with the left hand and grab onto the inner edge of the left foot. From here, take an inhale to lift the chest and roll the shoulders back. Begin to press the left foot into the left hand as you reach the right arm up overhead. There is always the option to bow forward if that feels right. Hold the pose for a few breaths before releasing to practice this beach yoga pose on the other side.
Seated Forward Bend Pose is one of the best seated postures of all beach yoga poses. Whenever we come into spinal flexion, moving the heart closer to the thighs, we are always relaxing the body. After an energizing beach yoga practice, this can be the perfect antidote. This is a lovely counter pose for backbends. It's also a nice stretch for the hamstrings which can help to open the legs after multiple leg strengthening postures.
To practice Seated Forward Bend Pose on the beach, come into a comfortable seated position. Extend the legs straight in front of you. Take an inhale and lengthen the arms overhead. As you exhale, hinge at the hips and start to bow forward. Be sure to keep the spine long. Think about reaching the crown of the head past the toes rather than bringing the nose to the knees. It isn't necessary to touch the toes unless that feels right for your body. Feel free to close your eyes and melt into the posture, holding for 8-10 breaths.
The sweetest of our beach yoga poses is Savasana. Savasana is always the most relaxing pose of the class and the one that we all look forward to. When you practice Savasana on the beach, you get to feel the body sink into the sand with the beach air gracing the skin.
Come to lie flat on the back. Flip the palms up to the sky and let the legs roll gently open. If the sun is too bright for you, you can always bring a towel over the eyes or face. Spend at least 15 minutes in beach Savasana and soak up all the benefits of your practice.
Practicing yoga on the beach is a wonderful way to connect with nature and enjoy the benefits of yoga. The beach provides a unique environment that can enhance your yoga practice and help you connect with the natural world around you. Here are some tips for practicing yoga on the beach:
Choose the Right Spot: When practicing yoga on the beach, it's important to choose the right spot. Look for a quiet and secluded area where you can practice without distractions or interruptions. Make sure to check the tide schedule and choose a spot that will be safe and dry during your practice. (If you're planning to pose for yoga pictures on the beach, choosing the right spot is also important)
Use a Mat or Towel: Sand can be a bit uneven and can be uncomfortable for certain poses, so it's a good idea to use a yoga mat or towel to help provide a stable surface for your practice. A towel can also help to absorb any sweat or moisture and prevent slipping.
Dress Appropriately: When practicing yoga on the beach, it's important to dress appropriately for the weather and the environment. Choose lightweight and breathable clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable. Consider wearing a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from the sun.
Stay Hydrated: The beach can be hot and sunny, so it's important to stay hydrated during your yoga practice. Bring a water bottle with you and take regular sips throughout your practice to help prevent dehydration.
Mind Your Surroundings: When practicing yoga on the beach, it's important to be mindful of your surroundings. Be respectful of other beachgoers and avoid practicing in crowded areas. Stay aware of your surroundings and avoid any hazards or obstacles that could be dangerous or distracting.
Enjoy the View: One of the benefits of practicing yoga on the beach is the stunning views and natural scenery. Take some time to enjoy the beauty of the ocean and the beach around you, and use the natural environment to enhance your practice.
Be Mindful of Wildlife: The beach is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, fish, and other sea creatures. When practicing yoga on the beach, be mindful of the animals around you and avoid disturbing them. Be respectful of their space and avoid any behaviors that could harm or stress them.
Practicing yoga on the beach can be a wonderful way to connect with nature, enhance your practice, and enjoy the beauty of the natural world. By choosing the right spot, using a mat or towel, dressing appropriately, staying hydrated, minding your surroundings, enjoying the view, and being mindful of wildlife, you can make the most of your beach yoga practice and enjoy the many benefits that it has to offer.
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