On a warm, sunny day in south Florida, what better place to be than the beach? And, of course, why not take the time to practice a little meditation and asana while spending the afternoon quietly sitting and looking at the sea?
Recently, I practiced a little asana on the white, flour-soft sands of Siesta Key – a unique beach that was created from pulverized crystal rocks that are off shore, and, is said to have healing qualities.
Well, all I needed was to run my hands through the cool, soft sand to feel the calming qualities of the crystal beach. Have you ever heard of beach yoga?
Move it to use it
Admittedly, I also found the practice hard to follow once I was face down on my towel with my hands in the sand during Salambasana – I just wanted to stay put and do “sunbather pose.”
However, while moving through the sand, feeling it’s qualities to support and mold to the body, or even be flattened out to hold a balance pose like Garundasana, I had an epiphany on how sand could be used as a supportive prop like a block or blanket.
The beauty of doing yoga in the sand is that it conforms to your body, or wherever you move it. Sand allows the fingers sink to grasp the earth, or form little divots to support the knees. It also serves as a wonderful anchor, allowing the feet to bury in the sand, or a great source to lift the body by building little mounds beneath the hands or sit bones.
So, I started experimenting with the sand and how it could be moved and molded to enhance the stability of a pose, and found that it was indeed a great prop.
5 Beach Yoga Poses To Try In The Sand
1. Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana)
If you’re truly open to this pose, the sand is a great surface to practice sliding the feet forward and back simultaneously – which some practice with one or two feet on blankets. The surface of the sand can also be built up into a mound to support the sit bones and legs if the full pose isn’t quite reachable.
2. Hero Pose (Virasana)
Sand is especially good for giving the knees a little softness just like a blanket in this pose. The sand can also be built up into a small mound under the sit bones to raise the hips – just like a block or blanket would do. Finally, for sputa Virasana (or the reclining version of this pose) you can build a mound of sand to support the back as well.
3. Headstand (Sirsasana)
The soft sand is so forgiving on the crown of the head. Just build a small divot, place your head, and bottoms up. The view of an upside down beach scene even more beautiful! (Note: be sure the surface is fairly flat and not slanted, such as the slope near the water’s edge.)
4. Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) and Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
The sand is a great prop for anchoring the feet, just like a non-slip yoga mat, and is also an easy surface to allow for the extension or moving forward of the front foot, in case the pose need to go a bit deeper. Also, try isometrically pulling the feet towards one another on the sand – it adds another dimension of resistance. If you usually prefer a block to support the lower hand on the floor, can simply build a mound of sand to your own personal height – just grab the sand and keep building until the appropriate height is reached.
5. High Lunge
If you typically use blocks to give lift to the arms and chest, use the mounds of sand – again, building them to your own personal height. And, whether you prefer low lunge (with the knee on the ground) or move into Anjanaya asana, the sand is a wonderful prop to soften the knee’s pressure.
Hatha yoga as it was meant to be
Practicing yoga on the beach can bring a new sense to a basic hatha yoga practice, as it focuses personal energy through balance and strength. The qualities of sand can help you more comfortably access a pose that you might not feel comfortable with on a hard, non-malleable surface. It can also help manage over-efforting, and help you to to relax into the pose as it conforms around your body.
The balance of the cool sand and the warm sun can also balance the body and mind – which is the whole purpose of hatha yoga.