Sunday, February 23

Beach Yoga Pinellas | Madeira, FL

We spent a couple days at the beach, so you bet I was going to look up some yoga classes. When I found a location that offered paddleboard yoga, I was so excited... but quickly realized it was on a day I wouldn't be there. But they did offer up yin yoga on the beach. I love yin yoga—so I was happy to sign up.  

LOCATION: Is there anything I can really say about a location like on the beach?! Of course! Where on the beach is always the biggest question when you're going to one of these classes. Beach Yoga Pinellas does a great job of telling you where to park so you know you'll be nearby. Once you park (which these are metered parking lots for the tourists, but there are pay stations so you don't have to have change)... look for other students, they're pretty obvious on the beach just by clothing and towels/bags set up a little differently. Then set yourself up and enjoy the view while you wait for class to start! 
STUDIO: Soft sand, calming waves of the gulf, blue skies, sunshine, a little breeze. Oh yeah. $15 drop-in—exact cash only if you don't pay online before class. 
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Yin yoga works deeply into the connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, cartilage and fascia), in order to heal joints and increase flexibility through slow, gentle and sustained traction. Yin yoga focuses on slowly stretching the connective tissues around joints, which in turn also helps to strengthen them.
INSTRUCTOR: Lucy doesn't have a bio + no matter how much I google stalk, I can't find any info on her, sorry.

This was my third beach yoga practice and my second Yin Yoga class I believe, and beach yoga always seems to present challenges that you almost enjoy just by default of location. For my first class it was the experience of balancing on a moving ground for the first time. The second class was learning bug spray was essential for lil buggers and sunglasses for seeing your instructor. This class was being grateful for sunglasses for the sand blowing and constantly telling myself that it was a spa day exfoliation while I lay back and feel sand going across my face. 

The other huge challenge was my focus... it was horrible. Not because of the view or the sound of rolling waves, my thoughts weren't on that beach at all. No matter how much I tried to wrangle them back in, away they went running naked through the streets. I did the best I could, and for that I'll just have to be grateful. Now, back to the practice at hand... I was aware enough to share some of it with you :) 

Lucy had us go into poses, holding them all for at least five minutes. She had different names for poses than I'm use to—so it was like taking a class for the first time just for not understanding what she was requesting. She did, like all instructors do, explain the pose or show the pose herself. The first request was banana pose. Banana pose? Yep. We laid flat on our beach towels and scooted our butts to one side, then you'd shape yourself like a banana by moving your feet + head in the opposite direction. This made my sacrum pretty unhappy, but after the tension released a bit, all calmed down. 

The whole class focused in on our hips—which mine tend to be pretty open, but I definitely felt it the next morning. Lunges, laying swan (or, as I know it, pigeon pose), and forward fold and reclining half hero pose or virasana (which my knees didn't like very much and I could have used a couple props for this (although Lucy does bring blocks + straps with her, so all was not lost. This was the one pose she came by to adjust me on the best she could) were a few poses—below you can see examples of half hero pose: 

I will say, that this may not be the way I would recommend a first yoga class, as luxurious as yoga on the beach sounds. Mostly because you can't hear the instructor very well (Lucy was losing her voice by the end of the practice, how she does it weekly is beyond me) and poses on a solid ground is really a better place to start. Extra props are always nice to have around, and because the wind was picking up, Lucy avoided walking around a kicking up sand to "exfoliate" our skin. This kept her from adjusting us more, unfortunately.

But for those who have taken a few classes, even, I think you'd find a beach yoga class a great experience. Here's what I recommend to bring with you (links are to my favorite brands): 
Bug Spray
A beach towel or two (or your yoga mat, if you don't mind it in the sand)
Something to weigh down your towel in case it's breezy (I use my sandals usually)
And, a couple more pictures of the beach, of course :) 
our instructor Lucy

couldn't resist a pic of a kiddo running into a flock of seagulls sunbathing

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