Designed to foster union between the mind, body, breath and spirit, yoga is primarily an internal practice that can, in theory, be performed anywhere.
However, for most of us, the environment in which we practice has a big impact on how enjoyable and effective our yoga sessions can be. The more peaceful and comfortable the space, the more likely we can cultivate focus and presence.
And there are few places more relaxing than the beach.
Beach yoga will not only allow you to reap all the benefits of your regular practice, but studies show that spending time near large bodies of water carries a unique set of emotional and spiritual benefits that can be a great compliment to your sadhana.
However, while beach yoga can be a beautiful and rewarding experience, it does come with its own set of challenges – and some aren’t as obvious as you might think.
We’re here to help you anticipate and prepare for these potential obstacles, so that you can make the most of your beach yoga session. In this article, we’ll be looking at:
- What is beach yoga?
- What are the benefits of beach yoga?
- 7 tips for practicing yoga on the beach
What is Beach Yoga?
Beach yoga is exactly what it says on the tin – the practice of yogic asanas, sequences and meditations in a beautiful beach setting. This needn’t be seafront, and can be enjoyed anywhere there’s a stretch of sand, including lakes, quarries and river banks.
Like many types of outdoor yoga, this can be performed individually or with a group, self-guided or guided by a trained yoga instructor – with many studios now offering beach yoga classes.
From Vinyasa to Ashtanga to Yin, you can practice pretty much any style of yoga on the beach. Guided sessions are most commonly Hatha inspired, with sun salutations, standing poses, and seated poses all frequent inclusions in beach yoga.
3 Benefits of Beach Yoga
More than just beautiful spaces to practice yoga, beaches and other waterside environments also have the power to benefit our physical, mental, and social health in various ways, including the following:
#1: Fosters Relaxation
It is widely recognized that spending time near natural bodies of water, such as beaches or lakesides, has a soothing, rejuvenating effect on the mind and body.
In the book Blue Mind, author Wallace J. Nichols recounts how the color blue and the sound of moving water are associated with feelings of calm and relaxation, while negative ions found near moving water are believed to have a mood-boosting effect.
Studies have also shown that spending time near water can also reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol and increase feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which both play a key role in regulating mood and promoting calm and happiness.
Practicing yoga in a waterfront setting can thus further enhance the mood-boosting effects of the yogic practice itself, with the sound of waves, feel of sand underfoot, and fresh air working together to create a peaceful and rejuvenating experience.
#2: Improved Balance and Strength
Practicing yoga on the beach offers several benefits that can enhance our strength, balance, and focus.
Firstly, beach yoga requires more physical effort than indoor practice, due to the uneven surface and the resistance provided by the sand.
Studies show that helps to build strength, particularly muscles in the lower body, as they work harder to maintain balance on an unstable surface.
The unstable surface of the sand also makes balancing more difficult, requiring you to develop a more focused mind and the body to engage more dynamic muscle strength and reaction to remain stable and prevent falls.
#3: Boosts Creativity
With the fresh air, water sounds, and earth against your feet, the multi-sensory experience of waterside yoga has been linked to the ‘restorative environments’ theory, which asserts that exposure to natural water environments rejuvenates the body, mind, and spirit.
This multi-sensory experience has been shown to capture our attention, reducing mental fatigue and allowing the brain to reset and recharge, resulting in improved mood, creativity, and productivity.
Practicing yoga in natural environments such as the beach can help to clear our minds and make space for more creative thought.
Similarly, switching up your usual yoga space for beach yoga offers a change of scenery and perspective that can inspire new ideas and ways of thinking.
7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Beach Yoga
Yoga on the beach can be a wonderful and unique experience, but of course, it does come with its own set of challenges and necessary preparations.
To help ensure you a peaceful and rewarding practice, we’ve devised 7 tips for a safe and effective yoga beach practice:
#1: Check the weather forecast
Before you head out for your beach yoga practice, make sure to always check the weather forecast to ensure that you’re prepared for any unexpected weather conditions.
Weather can be a game changer for your practice, with strong winds, sudden downpours or extreme temperatures can make your practice difficult, slippery, and unsafe.
Additionally, checking the weather will help you determine the appropriate clothing, props, and equipment based on the forecasted conditions and environment.
#2: Practice Sun Safety
Practicing yoga outdoors is a great opportunity to experience nature and soak up some vitamin D. However, in high doses, the sun’s rays can also be harmful, posing risks such as skin damage, heat stroke, and dehydration.
Apply and reapply a high factor sunscreen and practice in the shade where possible.
Try to practice in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler. Not only will this help you avoid the discomfort of overheating, but you might even catch views of a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
To prevent dehydration, be sure to drink water before, during, and after your practice to help your body replenish lost fluids.
Also, on hotter days make sure to wear comfortable and breathable clothing that allows for a full range of motion, but also protects your skin from the sun.
#3: Forget your mat and work with the sand
One benefit of practicing yoga on the sand is the soft cushion of support it offers, that can be beneficial for various poses. For example, when sitting on the sand, you might find that your hips and bottom are more comfortably supported than when on a hard studio floor.
Additionally, practicing on sand can add a fun challenge to your workout, forcing you to engage different muscles to maintain stability, developing your strength and balance, as mentioned above.
Another technique is to dig your feet into the sand, which can provide more stability and better balance during standing postures.
However, there are also some potential downsides to practicing on sand.
For one, sand can damage your yoga mat, which is why we recommend using a towel instead for your beach practice. Using a towel can also help absorb any sand that might bother you during your practice.
#4: Don’t forget to warm up
Prior to starting any yoga practice, it’s essential to take the time to warm up your body and center your mind. Yet it can be easy to forget the importance of a proper warm-up, especially when surrounded by beautiful and ever-changing natural scenery.
So, before diving into your beach yoga practice, take the time to properly warm up your body. Starting slowly with some gentle warm-up poses that target all the areas that will be worked during your yoga session can make all the difference in injury prevention.
As you gently ease into more challenging poses, be mindful of how your body feels and adjust accordingly. Doing so will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings without any discomfort or worry.
#5: Embrace interruptions
The magic of natural spaces often lies in their unpredictability and the unexpected delights they offer. Although these fleeting moments can be enchanting, the variability can make beach yoga more prone to disruption than a practice in controlled studio settings.
While these interruptions and imperfections could be viewed as frustrating obstacles, with the right perspective they can also be used as an opportunity to cultivate inner peace, gratitude, and positivity in the face of discomfort or challenge.
To fully embrace outdoor yoga, try to welcome imperfections and practice equanimity.
Whether it’s uneven ground or sudden bouts of rain, there will always be factors outside of our control. However, by accepting these imperfections and maintaining balance, we can experience a more rewarding practice.
#6: Protect the environment
Last but certainly not least, make sure to minimize the environmental impact of yoga by practicing your beach yoga sequence with respect for the environment and other beachgoers.
Human traffic on beaches can have a significant impact on the natural environment, and it’s crucial that we take steps to minimize this impact and protect the beach for other beings and future generations.
To remain environmentally conscious, there are three important rules to follow.
- Firstly, leave no trace.
- Secondly, use eco-friendly products.
- Thirdly, love the wildlife and respect their home.
#7: Connect with the beauty around you
Just as tasting a delicious meal is essential to fully enjoying it, connecting to nature is crucial for reaping the benefits of outdoor yoga. Without this connection, one may miss out on the full sensory experience and benefits of practicing in a natural setting.
To get the most out of your outdoor practice, take time to meditate in nature and ground oneself in the surrounding environment, maintaining this connection throughout the practice.
By cultivating a deeper connection with the surroundings, one can foster a sense of gratitude, appreciation, and awareness of the natural world, promoting a greater sense of oneness and harmony with the environment.
To cultivate this connection with nature during your beach yoga practice, take time to notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you and use them to cultivate mindfulness and present-moment awareness.
Get creative and ground yourself in the surrounding nature by breathing with the in and out tides of the ocean, practicing gratitude for every bird sound you hear, and by finding ways to cool off in the water or float during savasana.
If you’ve enjoyed this article on beach yoga and want to know more about the benefits of outdoor meditation and yoga practices, why not check out our guides below?