Three years ago I stopped working at camp in the summer. Instead of waking at an early hour and heading to work as a responsible aquatics director with the charge of six-hundred campers and twenty lifeguards, I slept in, walked the twenty-five paces to the beach and headed for a walk on the shoreline. Here I found a beach yoga class that for years I’d seen signs, but never was able to take. I’ve been hooked for three years.
After the first class, where I was covered every inch in sand, I knew this was for me. Since then, I’ve managed to limit my face-plants in crow pose, remain upright in half-moon and found a love of flight in anti-gravity yoga. There have been so many positive changes. Better flexibility, more stability and less twinges in my lower back on a regular basis. There’s also more inner peace, balance and free thinking. As a yogi, I love my class and how it makes me feel. As a traveler, I often find it hard to merge a love of adventure with a yoga class abroad.
Thankful for the ability of long term travel, I’ve been lucky to find two beach yoga classes that enhanced my journey, melded travel and yoga and forced me to embrace savasana in other lands.
In August of 2012, Mathew and I spent two weeks in Eastern Africa. Our travels took us to Zanzibar, through Tanzania and the Serengeti and ended in Nairobi, Kenya. We had four days on the beautiful Indian Ocean beaches of Zanzibar, known to the world as the ‘spice island’. This gorgeous African island is home to many of the world’s spices, a Zanzibar pizza filled with nutella & a chapati bread that rivals India’s naan.
Down the beach from our hotel was a rooftop yoga class that overlooked the water. Walking the path to the cottage was an adventure in itself. Timing was key as the waves of the ocean crashed just at the rock wall’s edge and if you broke eye contact for a split second you were covered in white foam, ocean spray and sand. The teacher was, Louise, from Scotland. She had been in Zanzibar for two months and traveling the world for nine years. A kindred spirit! Twenty US dollars for a one and a half hour vinyasa yoga class on a rooftop in Zanzibar overlooking the Indian Ocean, definitely worth it! My class had only one other student aside from myself. I went back for another session the next day!
Having the ability to take this class made every day I was covered in Long Beach sand and every time I ached two days after class that much more worthwhile. It was such an amazing experience. These gifts of yoga and travel combined to make the experience on the beaches of Eastern Africa that much greater. (Thank you Kristen for having the patience in Long Beach so that I could keep up on my yoga practice on my travels)
I knew I was lucky when I found the beach yoga in Long Beach. I knew I was lucky when I found teachers with patience, understanding and a love of their craft who made sure that my yoga practice was just that, mine. I knew I was lucky that I was able to travel to Africa to experience its culture and beauty. But this, this was very special.
Just six months later Mathew and I set out on another ‘round the world adventure traveling through ten countries in two months. Our first stop was Perth, Australia and if this city isn’t a sun-lover’s paradise, I don’t know what is.
We stayed in Cottlesloe Beach, just kilometers outside of the city center in a tucked away sand and surf community. A beachfront community, similar to ours in New York, greeted us after long hours of travel. We dipped our toes in the same Indian Ocean again just across the way from East Africa. Cafes lined the streets, surfers took to the waves and a relaxed attitude was in the air.
A yoga shop’s free class took place that weekend on the pathway overlooking the sea. Over fifty men and women plopped mats or towels on a patch of dirt, grass or concrete to share this yogic moment to greet the day. It felt like an advanced class and some things I had to modify, but I kept up. No face plants or knocking into the woman next to me while I breathed in that salty sea air and reaffirmed my belief in nature, the world’s people and the gifts of both yoga and travel.
Since our return to New York, I have found a love of anti-gravity yoga. Flying high in a hammock provides a similar strength and flexibility as mat yoga mixed with a youthful spirit of playground swings and circus acrobatics. Yoga has now been a part of my life for three years and it’s taken many forms. Its gifts are plentiful as are those I get from travel. To be able to merge two of the things that give me pleasure and peace has been a gift that keeps on giving. I feel lucky to be able to have both yoga and travel in my life and even luckier to have experienced both in varied places around the world.