6 Life Lessons for Women at Beach Yoga

An impromptu yoga session at China Beach revealed unexpected revelations. Don’t discount your everyday experiences! There are lessons to be learned all the time. While these lessons could surely apply to anyone, they seemed to apply directly to women as I mulled them over.

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Virabhadrasana 2; Warrior 2 pose

 

1. Take Up Space

Women often sit cross-legged or stand with arms folded across the torso, which makes us shrivel and sink inwards. We also live in a society that wants us to be as tiny as possible. Are we expected to disappear? Strike this pose wherever you may be. Believe it or not, this would not be a strange thing to do in SF where it’s common to see people dancing, stretching, or doing tai chi while waiting for the bus. Be like them! Stop apologizing when you see an open seat on the bus and go for it, and stop feeling bad about taking up too much space, whether you’re on the plane, at home, or at work! From now on, I’m going to flaunt my 5-foot wing span!

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Shanti virabhadrasana; peaceful warrior pose

 

2. Display Your Strength

Women are often so afraid to show their strength due to traditional negative associations with the word “strength.” The peaceful warrior knows that her display of strength is not an indication of aggression. Our culture has done that to us— it assigns aggression to us if we appear strong. The peaceful warrior shows that she is strong, while being an instrument of peace. Don’t apologize for your strong quads or broad shoulders. Anyone who tries to make you feel bad about being strong is assessing you from a vantage point of weakness.

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Ardha chandrasana; half moon pose

 

3. Lean on Others for Support

Ironically the culture that criticizes us if we appear too strong also criticizes if we appear too weak. Find like-minded people who will support you. You’ll need support in beach yoga when the sand sinks down from underneath your feet!

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Purvottonasana; upward plank pose

 

4. Support Others

Realize that when you help others, you’re not adding to them and subtracting from you. Everyone benefits, even the larger community benefits when symbiotic relationships abound. Take this picture for example. My upward plank pose creates a harmonious photo by balancing out the Golden Gate Bridge. Our world would be more balanced if everyone helped others. The bonus is that with this kind of good karma going on, someone else will act as your “bridge” in a future time of need.

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Utthita parsvakonasana; side angle pose

 

5. Let the Sunshine In

There is always light even in the most unexpected and darkest of places. Turn yourself into a radar sensor for light, and your heart will always find it. Shane and I were on a foggy San Francisco stroll and arrived at China Beach. As we descended the large staircase down towards the sand, the sky suddenly opened up and illuminated the entire entryway of the bay. Never pass up an opportunity to celebrate the light! That’s how my impromptu yoga session came about.

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Vrksasana; tree pose

 

6. Turn the Mundane into the Extraordinary

In the beginning of this post I alluded to the possibility of finding value in everyday situations. Something as mundane as a walk through your neighborhood could end up as a photoshoot accompanied by an exhilarating sensation of “flying,” as seen here. Getting this photo actually took a bunch of shots from my patient photographer. (Xoxo Shane.) Either it got too windy to find balance, or the waves would come up too high and distract me from my balancing act. On top of that, the top of this rock was not at all smooth; I’ve never had so much trouble balancing on one foot. However, it was totally worth it. Every yogini knows that moment when you’ve stuck the pose, and you realize everything is perfect. Never pass up the opportunity to turn a blah moment into a divine one.

A logistical side note on beach yoga:

This especially applies to beach environs like SF where it’s not actually warm— be sure to start your yoga session with extra layers like full-length pants and a sweatshirt. Your body is likely more used to yoga session temperatures upwards of 85 degrees Fahrenheit if you regularly practice in a studio. Jumping too abruptly into outdoor yoga situations without warming up properly could leave you with sore muscles or having pinched / pulled something. I generally run 3 or 4 miles before engaging in outdoor yoga just to ensure that blood is flowing throughout the muscles. Have fun!

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