Next time you’re at the beach and you’d like to take a little break from the water, try this beach yoga sequence from Jessica Bellofatto of KamaDeva Yoga.
I love the beach. It is easily my favorite place in the world. So for me, once the temperature heats up, it makes absolute perfect sense to take my yoga practice outside and onto the beach. Though sand is not the perfect surface for yoga, with a little flexibility (no pun intended), you can enjoy a full on yoga practice at the water’s edge.
Find as firm and flat a surface as possible. You can lay out a yoga mat, but sometimes I find that it moves around too much and gets super sandy anyway, so you may be better off forgoing the mat and just enjoy the warm sand.
I made this whole beach yoga sequence primarily a backbending sequence, because it feels so good and natural to open the heart and chest up into the warm sun and sky, and also because both backbends and the sun are natural mood elevators, so this is a happy practice for sure.
I am currently 5 months pregnant with my third child and continuing to enjoy and appreciate my yoga practice and the fact that I can so easily adapt it to my changing body. I have so much gratitude for this practice every day, and I hope that you can begin to feel that as well for yourself. Om Shanti.
Hit the beach and try out these 6 beach yoga poses:
From a hands and knees position tuck your toes under and lift your hips high into the air. Straighten the legs by pressing and rooting the thighbones back into the hamstrings. Release your head and neck down between your arms and breathe smoothly and deeply. I especially like the one with my back to the water, so that when you drop the head you are looking out at the ocean. Most of us are so familiar with downward dog, but consider that the reason we do it so often throughout class is that it truly stretches and strengthens so many parts of the body, so you can specifically focus on the area you are trying to work on.
From downward dog, exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands. Place the left knee on the sand, and at first see if you can rise up onto your fingertips and begin to lift your chest towards the sky. Isometrically pull your front foot back and your back leg forward, so that you engage muscle to bone all along the legs (an isometric contraction engages the muscles without actually moving the body in space). When and if you feel ready, take the arms up alongside the ears. As you move deeper into this first backbend, visualize the backbend evenly distributed throughout the entire spine. Hold for a few breaths and then exhale into downward dog and switch legs.
Again from downward facing dog, step the right foot forward between the hands and this time place the left heel down on the floor. On an inhalation, sweep the arms around and up into Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II). Bend the front leg deeply to a 90-degree angle but keep the back leg straight and strong. Extend the arms out at shoulder height and turn the head to gaze past the middle finger of the right hand. Feel your feet making good contact with the sand, pressing and imprinting into the sand, and then from that, rising up into the energy of the legs. Place your hands back down alongside your front foot and then step back to downward facing dog and switch legs.
Balance poses are especially fun on the beach, because our whole practice is much more playful and if we fall, we fall onto the soft sand! From downward dog, step the right foot forward between the hands. Begin to take your right hand a bit further out in front of you and slightly off to the right and then push off your left foot and lift your left leg up into the air, opening the hips like Warrior II. You can start with your top hand on your hip until you feel steady and then extend your left arm straight up to the sky. Gradually turn your head so that you gaze up at the top hand. Extend energy through your arms and legs and out into the vast space around you. Step back to dog pose and try the other side.
Pigeon with Backbend
From downward facing dog, step the right leg forward into pigeon pose. Square your hips by feeling as if you turn the back leg IN more and the front leg OUT more, and if the right hip has to lift off the floor, that is fine. Walk your hands back in line with your hips and rise up onto your fingertips, beginning to lift your chest. Just like crescent lunge, pull your back leg forward and your front leg back isometrically, so that you engage the muscles along the legs and give support to the backbend of the spine. We stretch and open the legs after we hug the energy to the midline and hug muscle to bone, so that our stretch is integrated and safe and supported. Before you lift the chest to the sky, pull the belly in and up, absorb the front ribs into the back ribs and lift the chest. Step back to down dog and switch legs.
Our final pose is one of my favorites. Come to a kneeling position and place your hands on your hips. Use your hands to root your pelvis down into your legs as you begin to lift your chest. Keep the front body contained and absorbed into the back body even as you move into the backbend. If you can reach back for your feet do so, otherwise keep your hands on your hips. Pull the tailbone actively down into the legs, take the bottom tips of the shoulder blades into the back and breathe into this incredible heart opening.
After camel pose, come into one final downward facing dog to neutralize the whole body. From here, I recommend a few minutes of lying in savasana directly on the sand, rather than on a mat or blanket, and simply receiving the earth’s energy. A jump in the ocean or lake is the ideal way to end this practice.