A weekly column by Catherine Dugan. This week: Yoga on the Beach.
Vacations are all about breaking up your routine – even when the routine is something as pleasant as your yoga class. Chances are, if you practice yoga, you go to the same studio and work with the same instructor each week. Take some time during your vacation to move your practice outdoors, and rediscover yoga. Or, try it for the first time. As yogi Sharon Fruchtman-Laffey says, we should all approach the mat each time as if for the first time, the better to discover something new about ourselves.
Yoga is usually translated as “union” or “control” and is said to be as old as civilization itself. In the United States, “yoga” generally refers to the exercises and poses of Hatha yoga, a workout that is simultaneously gentle and vigorous. You focus on your breathing, the connections between your body parts, and your connection to the world around you. It is a noncompetitive form of exercise, open to people of all fitness levels, and benefits are said to include muscle building, flexibility, and improved breathing. Yoga is often recommended for asthmatics. Yoga also lowers stress hormones – and isn’t that what vacations are all about?
Balance Pilates & Yoga Studio offers Yoga on the Beach at the Jackson Street Beach from July 4 through Labor Day. Classes meet Fridays and Saturdays at 8am. Each class is $15, there is no preregistration, and you bring your own beach towel. (You can bring your yoga mat, but consider a towel underneath it.) In this public space, the yoga experience is strangely private – the sound of the waves blends with your breath, the sun glints off the water, and you find yourself lost in the movements of your own body. The sensations are different, outside of a climate-controlled studio, and the instructor (Joanna Hurd on Fridays) is aware of this and calls your attention to it. Judy Heany, who teaches the Saturday class, agrees that there is something special about yoga in the outdoors, and is often lucky enough to see dolphins go by as she practices.
Congress Hall offers Yoga with Sharon Fruchtman-Laffey on the beach at 8:30am Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday during the summer. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased at the front desk. Yoga mats are provided, and the instruction is warm and encouraging. Instead of fighting the sand, you are encouraged to use it to build props to take the pressure off your joints. A weekday 6am class is also held at Decatur Street beach.
As the yogis say, “Don’t just do something – sit there!”
Next week: Leaving on a Jet Ski