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.