Thursday, August 7, 2014

The New Downward-Facing Dog: The Ocean-Facing Dog

Mornings are not my favorite. If I'm at my parents' house in South Jersey, I'm not waking up for less than the entire house smelling like bacon and homemade waffles. That is, unless it's the summer, then NJ Beach Yoga does the trick.

I've taken many a yoga class in my day, most at the gym at my work, some in Central Park, and some in my living room, but there's nothing like practicing yoga in front of my favorite ocean with some of my favorite people. NJ Beach Yoga is owned and operated by one of the most positive people I know, Teri O'Connor. Teri can wake you up in a way like no other, each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at JFK Boulevard Beach in Sea Isle City. Because it's during the week, I'm only able to attend a few times a season, but I'm always grateful when I can.

Yoga on the beach is definitely a challenge. The sand is not a flat surface like a studio floor would be, but this helps your body learn to balance a little better. It's important to find a good spot by the water where the sand is packed but not still damp from high tide. No yoga mat is needed for this class, a towel works just as well.

While practicing yoga on the sand is challenging, Teri stresses that you do what feels right for you. She lets you know along the way how beautiful and amazing you all look, saying that the hardest pose is showing up, and encouraging you to breathe in the salt air and listen to the waves of the ocean. You feel one with nature as you are planting your tree poses on the beach, doing sun-salutations to the actual sun, and gazing at the ocean or the boardwalk with a new viewpoint during your poses.

During Shavasana, a relaxation period at the end of class, it's easy to fall asleep for a few minutes to the sound of the waves crashing as you feel completely at peace with the world. NJ Beach Yoga always has shells with inspirational phrases to choose from as you are leaving to keep this peaceful spirit going for the rest of the morning.

If you find yourself on the Jersey Shore this summer (and you should), travel further down than you might normally and wake up earlier than you might normally to experience NJ Beach Yoga for yourself. Be sure to follow NJ Beach Yoga on Facebook if you're a local as there are sometimes special events at night (like Full Moon Beach Yoga coming up this Sunday!)



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