I can’t imagine anything more picturesque than a peaceful yoga flow on the beach, the sound of crashing waves the only soundtrack for miles. But more than it’s restorative effects, beach yoga is a great supplement to your regular practice because it offers both challenging and stabilizing elements. Struggling with balancing poses? Practicing in the sand (or on a mat placed over the sand) suddenly makes them so much easier! This sequence is a simple one, intended to increase flexibility through a series of asanas that are held for five breaths each as is taught in the Ashtanga method. Feel free to repeat the sequence a few times and add a few sun salutations to the beginning if you’d like a longer practice.
Body-Opening Beach Yoga Routine
Start lying face-down on your mat. When you are ready, simultaneously lift your feet, legs, and shoulders off the ground. Your legs should be touching and actively engaged, and your toes should be pointed. Your hands can either rest on the mat or be lifted alongside your torso, as pictured here. Hold the pose for five long breaths, and gaze towards your nose.
While still lying face-down, reach your arms back and grab your ankles. With your stomach and legs engaged, begin to lift your legs up and back; this motion will lift your chest off the mat and create and nice stretch in the shoulders. Focus on lifting both your legs and chest evenly for five breaths while gazing towards your nose.
This is an intermediate posture that requires flexibility in the knees, so move into this posture gently! As in dhanurasana, reach the arms back towards the heels. As you reach your feet, adjust the arms so that your palms are now touching the tops of your feet and your fingers face forward. With control, slowly press down on both feet while simultaneously lifting the chest and head. Your calves should be on the outside of the legs and you shouldn’t feel any pain. This video illustrates how to enter the pose safely. Again, gaze at the nose for five breaths.
4. Downward facing dog.
Once you have exited bhekasana, take a vinyasana starting with upward facing dog and moving into downward facing dog. Take five long breaths here while gazing at your navel.
5. Utthita Hasta Padangushthasana.
Jump towards the front of your mat and come to a standing position. Grab your waist with your left hand, and raise your right leg to catch your big toe. Maintaining your balance, slowly bend your torso over your leg, and touch your chin if you are able. To help maintain balance, gaze at a fixed point on the ground–a seashell, maybe! Hold for five breaths. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot reach your leg; the primary point of this posture is to balance, so make that your focus.
6. Ubhaya Padangushthasana.
Now lie down on your back. Raise your legs over your head, making sure to protect the neck by pressing the back of your head firmly into the ground. Grab your big toes and roll up on and inhale. Keep your legs straight and pressed together, and strongly engage the core. In order to balance in this posture, it is important that your toes are pointed and your chest is lifted, as this will create a counterbalance. Gaze up towards the sky and hold for five breaths.
Return to your back and move the legs into lotus position. Now, sit up on your elbows and inch them closer to your legs. With your elbows still propped up, slowly lower the top of your head to the ground. While staying on your head, release the arms and grab your feet, as pictured. Hold for five breaths while either looking at your nose or gazing towards your third eye.
Finally, take rest! Enjoy the sounds of the waves and seagulls.
Are you a fan of beach yoga?
Also by Molly: Opening Yoga Poses for Opening Your Hips
Related: Yoga for Flat Abs
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Photos: Molly Lansdowne