Perfecting your salutations under a seashore sun
The cool breezes, sand between your toes, sound of the waves, and smell of the sea create the perfect environment for tuning out the stressful, techno world we've come to inhabit and tuning into the Zen experience that yoga is meant to be, according to Teri O'Connor, a Jersey Shore-based health and wellness coach. She created the website njbeachyoga.com and began helping people be present in the moment upon the open-air strands of Sea Isle City eight years ago.
"There are no walls, so people can really open up and undo the tension patterns that create the stress in their lives," says O'Connor, who has had as many as 115 people participate in her beach yoga classes. Usually about 30 or 40 people show for the sessions that are held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on Sea Isle's JFK Boulevard beach. The classes attract participants at all levels, from beginners to those who make the asanas part of their regular mind/body fitness routine.
Last summer was the best so far for attendance - O'Connor thinks it had to do with people looking for a calm center in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. She predicts this year's sessions will be well-attended, too, by those seeking a chance to get outside and connect with the summer sun in a meaningful way after such a harsh winter.
Up and down the coast through Labor Day, yoga instructors such as O'Connor have made it as easy as plunking down your beach towel - no fancy yoga mat or class reservation needed - and paying a nominal fee averaging from around $5 to $15 a session to get your downward dog on.
Melissa Holzman Goldstein, whose Yoga Zone studios in Margate and Ocean City have been leading beach yoga classes for several years, says it is the perfect spot to practice yoga.
Relaxing music doesn't need to be piped in because you've got the sound of the sea. Sand is softer than a hardwood studio floor if you want to give a headstand a try.
Yet at the same time, according to the instructor, it can present challenges that are unique to the setting: While sand contours nicely to the feet, it can make the perfect alignment positions sometimes difficult to achieve.
"It's a lot of fun to practice yoga on the beach, but it challenges you in a different way than if you are indoors. The poses have a different dimension to them," Holzman Goldstein said.
Beginning June 23, Yoga Zone will offer beach yoga classes at Granville Avenue Beach in Margate on every day of the week except Tuesdays and Thursdays, and in Ocean City Monday through Friday on the Sixth Street beach, Holzman Goldstein said.
"There is nothing like a sun salutation when you are actually standing beneath the sun and you can just drink in all that positive energy," she said.
- Jacqueline L. Urgo
Finding a yoga class offered on the beachBeach yoga can be found up and down the New Jersey coast. Here are some places, from Long Beach Island south to Cape May this summer.
Long Beach Island: Summer beach yoga begins Saturday, June 21 on the 26th Street beach, Spray Beach, every day through Labor Day at 8:30 a.m. Weather permitting. Fee: donation. Iwc.massagetherapy.com
Margate: Beach yoga begins Monday, June 23 on the Granville Avenue beach and will be held Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8 a.m., Saturday sunset session 6 p.m. through Labor Day. Weather permitting. Fee: $15. Njyogazone.com
Ocean City: Beach yoga begins Monday, June 23 on the Sixth Street beach and will be held Monday through Friday at 8:30 a.m. through Labor Day. Weather permitting. Fee: $15. Njyogazone.com
Sea Isle City: Beach yoga runs Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, on the JFK Boulevard beach at 7:30 a.m. through Labor Day. Rain or shine. Fee: $10. Free full moon beach yoga classes on July 12 and Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Njbeachyoga.com
Avalon: Beach yoga begins Friday, June 20 on the 30th Street beach and will be held Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. through Labor Day. Weather permitting. Fee: $15. Islandaerobics.com
Stone Harbor: Beach yoga begins Monday, June 30 through Saturday, Aug. 30 on the 95th Street beach. Sessions run Monday through Thursday and Saturdays at 8 a.m. A sunrise session will be held Fridays at 6 a.m. Rain location at Stone Harbor Elementary School. Fee: $20. Just-breathe-yoga.com
Cape May: Beach yoga is being run on Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day at 8 a.m. on the Convention Center beach. Rain or shine. Fee: $5. Yogacapemay.com
Cape May Point: Beach yoga is held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday on the beach at Cape May Point Lighthouse State Park at 8 a.m. and Saturday at 9:30 a.m. through Labor Day. Rain or shine. Fee: $5. Yogacapemay.com
North Cape May: Yoga on the bay at sunset is being held on Tuesdays beginning July 1 through Labor Day at David Douglass Memorial Park/Canal Park beach at 7:15 p.m. Rain or shine. Fee: $5. Yogacapemay.com