“Close your eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Listen to the natural sounds around you.”
Even with my eyes closed, I can sense the heat of the sun on my eyelids. They aren’t the dark of night but rather a muted gold as light tries to penetrate my eyesight.
I breathe in. It smells like warmth. Like hot sand. With a touch of salt spicing the breeze.
I breathe out, trying to feel my abs. I sit up straight, pushing my shoulders back and feel the even fuzz of the new beach towel on my bare feet.
I let my hearing wander, something I struggle with because of hearing problems. A few children laugh in the distance. Bicycle wheels whir along the boardwalk behind me. And overriding it all is the natural sound I’ve been instructed to hear—the waves crashing in the ocean. The waves here, in Virginia Beach, are big and boisterous. I can hear them in my hotel room on the tenth floor with the balcony door shut. And I can definitely hear the roar and crash as they land on the packed sand several yards in front of me.
My hands sit lightly on my legs, which rest in a relaxed crossed position. I breathe in again, and then out. I focus on feeling my body: The heavy connection between the bones of my backside pressed into the sand below my towel. The straightness of my spine. The breeze on the back of my neck where a few short hairs that need to be trimmed tickle the skin. The weightlessness of my hands resting on my knees.
The instructor moves us from a sitting position into a standing one. We salute the sun and find our heart center, continuing to breathe in and out. She suggests we move into the sand and dig our feet into the hot surface for stabilization before moving into Warrior I and then into Warrior II and Triangle.
At first, I find myself intensely concentrating on the positions, trying to keep my mind off of the straying thoughts floating through it. Thoughts unrelated to yoga and not welcome with me in this place, on this towel, on this beach. But then I just start moving from one position to the other without thought—any thought. For the first time in the many years I’ve tried to fall in love with yoga, I get it. I understand what it’s supposed to feel like, what I’m supposed to feel like. I don’t have to think about balancing; I just do. I don’t have to concentrate on my breathing anymore; it just happens—in, out, in, out—slow, steady and consistent.
This is what yoga is supposed to be.
I continue through the motions, moving from the towel to the sand and back to the towel as needed for balance. Warrior III, Downward Facing Dog, Tree Pose. Movements are minutes are quickly lost as the hour begins to come to an end.
The instructor suggests we lay on the towel in the Corpse Pose, our backs resting against the towels that have warmed in the sun during our workout. I close my eyes again, sensing the heat on my eyelids, the crashing waves now lost as a soundtrack in the background. I breathe in and feel the sun. I breathe out slowly, the soft towel and packed sand heavy against my back.
In. And out.
Oceanfront Yoga | 3316 Atlantic Ave., Suite 301, Virginia Beach | 757.233.8000
My beach yoga experience was made possible by the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau but all opinions are my own.