Today, my yoga practice was off mat and on the sand at Salisbury Beach.
As I put my toes in the sand and went through my practice, I learned a few things…
Those tiny grains of sand, always shifting and moving, are also grounding and supportive. Just as sand holds the beach umbrella in place, sinking a foot into the sand helps with standing balance. Lifting and spreading the toes and then lifting the heal, leads to finding a solid foundation to stand.
Sand provides resistance. It builds strength and engages the core as hands and feet push and pull through the sand in the transitions of the practice.
Sand makes a great prop, like a block, but better, because it is so easily adjustable and movable.
In forward folds the sand can be piled to a height to assist with tight hamstrings and a neutral spine. Sand can be gripped in downward facing dog. In pigeon, sand can be used to elevate the hips; and there is no better place to work towards splits.
The next time you are at the beach, I encourage you to engage with the sand. Sit in it, stand it, move in it, interact with it, play with it. Try a pose. On the towel, or off. Take the opportunity to experience yoga off mat, with the sand below, the sky above and the ocean in sight.
Let go of your expectation of what the practice should be.
When we practice yoga, there is talk about being present in the moment, on the mat and off. I have had some interesting off the mat moments this past January that have kept me fully present.
The first was a trip to MASS MoCA, located in North Adams, MA. It is a contemporary art museum housed in converted factory buildings. Rooms, spacious with high ceilings are filled with natural light as well as views of the landscape.
Combine that with art, often quite large in scale, highly imaginative and often interactive. Curiosity takes over and there is no choice but to become immersed in the space and fall into the moment as you explore the museum room by room.
The second was a trip to see a friend. It has taken me many years to commit to this. Life has been busy, and there always seemed to be a reason why the time wasn’t right.
I visited Charleston, SC and found the city to be colorful and charming. Seeing new sights and enjoying new foods with an old friend, one can’t help but be in the moment.
The third was bringing back a family tradition. Taking time to honor and remember the past, to begin again and carry on with new variations and twists. Traditions bridge the past to the present moment. They remind us of what was then and what is now.
If there is something you’ve always wanted to do, consider this your nudge. Life is short and time goes by quickly.
Enjoy every moment.
I am finishing a one week vacation at Zoetry Auga in Punta Cana. A destination for me to vacation and be a yoga student again.
Yoga classes at Zoetry are located in the spa and the space is indoors, yet open to the outdoors. Lush green gardens surround the studio inviting the birds and their songs and the temperature is mid 80’s, even at 8:30AM, providing a natural heated studio.
Estefany Vargas is the yoga instructor here. She offers a daily class to the visitors of the resort. The class is a mix of Vinyasa and Hatha styles, and Estefany leads the group in a very calm, strong and encouraging manner. Although her group changes as vacations begin and end, she does not hesitate to get to know us, and help us reach our potential in a posture. She is genuine in her love for the practice.
As an instructor, it is a treat to hang up my teaching hat and practice yoga as a student. It reminds me what it’s like to try a class for the first time; and by the end of the week, what it’s like to participate in a class I am familiar with. It brings a different perspective and deeper understanding of the practice and the process of teaching and learning.
After class, breakfast, and then to the soft sand beach where the sky is deep blue, the ocean is teal with occasional white caps and the greens are varied, deep and bright. After a swim, it is easy to fall back into shavasana. Namaste.