On any given day, yoga makes me feel alive in body, mind and spirit. I’ve found, however, that doing yoga in a tropical setting adds color to my practice. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a yoga class in several exotic places, and there’s nothing like hearing the instructor say, “Turn your head toward the waves,” instead of “Turn toward the mirror.”
Here are some of my other discoveries about doing yoga outdoors:
1. Turks & Caicos: Contemplate Infinity by the Ocean
While practicing Warrior pose and gazing over the ocean, I can’t help but gain some perspective. How tiny I feel compared to the endless sea and sky!
The spa at The Palms Turks & Caicos resort holds sunrise yoga classes at the beach. The morning I was there, a shower passed through right at the 6:00 a.m. starting time. We waited under an umbrella by the pool, then did yoga on the boardwalk overlooking the beach rather than putting our mats in the wet sand. We were rewarded partway through the class by a rainbow on the horizon.
2. Jamaica: Revel in Your Senses
Everything seems more alive when you do yoga outdoors: the color of the water and tropical flowers, the scent of flowers and salt in the air, the twitter of exotic birds, the feel of the breeze on my face.
On Jamaica, at a guest house and retreat center called Bromley, yoga classes were held in a garden pavilion, surrounded by bougainvillea and other flowering trees and shrubs. During Savasana, I couldn’t help but open my eyes when a doctor bird—a hummingbird with long tail feathers—buzzed nearby. The same thing happened when the Bromley dogs, who were fascinated by our Fish Poses, stopped by to lick our faces.
3. Antigua: Move in Different Ways
When the yoga environment changes, you adapt—which takes you out of your usual box. At Carlisle Bay resort on the Caribbean island of Antigua, I joined the sunset yoga class on the dock right over the water. Boat Pose took on a whole new meaning as I imagined myself buoyed by ocean water. (I think I even held this asana longer because I felt that water was holding me “afloat.”)
Because of the movement of the gently lapping waves around me, balancing poses such as Tree Pose or Dancer’s Pose were more challenging than usual. Even when I closed my eyes, the sound of waves created the sensation of motion.
As the sun dipped closer and closer to the horizon, our small class did gentle Sun Salutes to end the day. The sky turned a hundred shades of pink.
Now that’s the way to do yoga!
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and traveling yogi