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Saturday, July 11, 2009

daily bliss: beach yoga

My favorite yoga studio, Lakeshore Yoga Center, offers beach yoga classes every July. Two summers ago Mom and I attended a few classes at the city beach in Grand Haven. As the sun slipped over the horizon, we practiced a series of sun salutations, stretches, and a long relaxation pose, listening to the sounds of the waves washing on the shore and the ebb and flow of conversation from other beachgoers.

The beach seems an ideal spot to practice yoga. If yoga is all about union or yoking (the traditional definitions of the word), then a shore embodies that sense of bringing-togetherness. If the spiritual goal of yoga is to accept where you are at any given moment without judgement or an attempt to bring about change, then the beach is perfect. If part of yoga is finding your "edge" and playing with that boundary, the liminal space between water and sand is flawless.

Last fall, H and I met *early* twice a week to jog to the beach, practice a little yoga, and walk back home. Our practice languished as the temperature dipped, and beach yoga became a dream of sunnier times.

Except for a crystalline winter day when I played with shadow photos (and hated how *substantial* i looked with so many layers of fleece and wool and down...)

Mom and I missed the beach yoga class last week, but when we were out walking the shore, I played with my favorite pose, half moon or Ardha Chandrasana, on a log, and managed to hold the tricky pose long enough for Mom to snap this photo. I joked that my torso and uplifted leg should be in one long straight line, and to do so I would need longer arms. We laughed, remembering the saleswoman in Ann Taylor who once upon a time declared my arms really long...In all seriousness, the perfect pose is the one where the soul expands, where the body feels weightless, and the heart flies out of the chest and embraces the entire world. I think I'm pretty close to that kind of perfection here:)

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