The Best Ways to Practice Yoga on the Beach
An ancient practice that has been around for centuries, yoga has become increasingly popular in recent decades—and for good reason. Yoga offers a number of proven benefits for the mind, body, and soul, including increased flexibility, reduced stress, and improved mental clarity. And that’s to say nothing of the many benefits beyond the mat, as yoga has been linked to long-term mental, physical and cardiovascular health in individuals who practice regularly.
While indoor studios remain a popular place to practice, there’s no denying the appeal of an outdoor session by the shore. From basking in the warmth of the sun to feeling the blissful breezes of gentle tradewinds, beach yoga is an excellent way to squeeze in a workout while enjoying the boundless beauty of the outdoors. Here, we explore the best ways to practice yoga on the beach, including everything you need to know to get started, along with a few popular beach destinations to try for yourself.
The Origins of Yoga
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in Northern India over 5,000 years ago—and some researchers believe it could even date back 10,000 years. The word "yoga" itself stems from the Sanskrit word "yuj," which means to unite or join. And while it was initially developed as a spiritual practice aimed at achieving greater awareness and enlightenment, it has ultimately evolved over time into a physical practice that focuses on improving health and well-being, too.
Over time, different styles and forms of yoga have emerged, each with its own unique focus and approach. Some of the most popular styles of yoga include Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Yin Yoga and Bikram yoga. Whatever your preferred style, yoga is practiced all over the world today, and its popularity only continues to grow as more people discover its benefits.
The Emergence of Beach Yoga
Whether it’s your first time practicing yoga, or you’re a more advanced practitioner with many years on your mat, yoga on the beach can add an entirely new dimension to the practice. Beyond experiencing the many physical benefits that yoga provides in any setting, practicing yoga on the beach allows you to connect with nature and feel a sense of peace and tranquility that can be harder to find in some studio environments. What’s more, practicing on the beach can be as easy as showing up, since there’s no mat or other accessories required.
Best Times to Go
The best time to practice yoga on the beach is either early in the morning or late in the evening. These moments can give you an opportunity to witness the sunrise or sunset, which can add an entirely new level of serenity to your practice. And just as importantly, these are typically the coolest parts of each day, when the sun’s rays are not as strong as they can be during midday (generally between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, though this can vary by your location and the time of year).
The bottom line is that practicing yoga on the beach around sunrise or sunset can make the experience more comfortable, as well as help you to avoid the times of day when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Just remember to apply a high-quality sunscreen no matter when you may go, as even minimal UV exposure can ultimately be harmful to exposed skin.
What to Bring with You
When practicing yoga on the beach, the most important things to bring are sunscreen and plenty of fresh water. That’s it! But if you’re someone who likes to be extra prepared, you can also bring a few studio comforts with you.
- Yoga mat: While you can technically practice right on the sand, a yoga mat can help you to stay focused while maintaining proper alignment—and it can be particularly useful on more powdery surfaces with loose sand, where you might otherwise lose your footing.
- Towel: Having a small hand towel or a microfiber yoga towel on hand can truly come in handy, helping to keep sweat at bay while also wiping the sand off your mat and skin as needed throughout your session.
- Hat and Sunglasses: While they aren’t standard accessories for the studio, a well-fitting hat and a favorite pair of sunglasses can help protect your face and eyes from the sun.
- Bluetooth Speaker: This one is absolutely not a must, since the beach already provides a number of natural sounds that are utterly soothing and serene. But beginners may find it helpful to stream audio instructions to assist with their flow.
- Sunscreen: Have we mentioned it enough yet? The sun can feel particularly intense on the beach without any nearby shade or cover, so remember to apply sunscreen before you head outside, and reapply it at least every 80 minutes (or according to the specific packaging instructions) from there. A sport sunscreen can be a particularly great choice for Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection when you know you’ll be sweating.
- Water: It is essential to stay hydrated while practicing yoga on the beach, so be sure to bring a water bottle along when you go. Bonus points if you can spot a water fountain or concession stand near your chosen yoga spot so that you can easily refill your bottle after your yoga session.
How to Get Started
If you are new to yoga or new to practicing yoga on the beach, it is important to start slowly and listen to your body. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Start Small: Start with simple poses like downward-facing dog or child's pose to get comfortable with the sand and the movement.
- Go Barefoot: Practicing yoga on the beach is best done barefoot, as it allows you to feel the sand beneath your feet, which can improve balance and stability.
- Watch the Tides: Be aware of the tides and make sure you are practicing far enough away from the water to avoid getting wet.
- Try a Yoga Class: Many studios in coastal locations offer beachfront yoga classes, and a quick Google search can help you explore the offerings for in-person yoga classes and other guided instruction in your area.
- Bring a Friend: Practicing yoga on the beach with a friend can be a great way to motivate each other and make the experience more enjoyable.
Popular Places to Practice
Practicing yoga on the beach simply requires a beach, so there are countless places where you can try it for yourself. Still, a few beaches around the world truly stand out.
Santa Monica Beach, California
This beach is a favorite among yoga enthusiasts and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. There are also several yoga studios nearby, and classes are often held on the beach itself.
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bondi Beach is famous for its golden sand and clear waters, making it a picturesque location for practicing yoga, in addition to its proximity to a number of yoga studios.
Tulum Beach, Mexico
Tulum Beach is a secluded paradise with crystal clear waters and white-sand beaches. It’s also home to a number of spas and retreats that offer daily yoga instruction.
Arambol Beach, Goa, India
Arambol Beach is a laid-back and bohemian beach in Goa, India, that is popular among yoga practitioners, thanks in part to the many yoga shalas and studios located nearby.
Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia
Kuta Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Bali, and it's also a great spot for practicing yoga, with a number of eco-retreats and yoga sanctuaries in the area.
These are just a few examples of the many beautiful beaches around the world that are perfect for practicing beach yoga. When choosing a beach for your practice, it's essential to consider factors such as accessibility, safety, and the availability of yoga classes or studios in the area.
Namaste in the Shade
Practicing yoga on the beach can be an incredible experience that offers numerous benefits for the mind, body, and soul. Ready to get started with your own beach yoga practice, and enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes with reconnecting with nature? All you need is sun protection and a beautiful beach. Just remember to take it slow, listen to your body, and enjoy the journey.