It was a sunny Sunday morning when I strolled onto Narragansett Town Beach looking for Gina Raheb’s beach yoga class. Wait, allow me to start again. It was very early on a sunny Sunday morning when I scrambled across the sand to make Gina Raheb’s Natural Fitness beach yoga class on time. I’m sure 8am is a totally normal time for a lot of the world, but on a Sunday morning? In the summer? That sangria wasn’t going to drink itself on Saturday night.
Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga, and I had been looking forward to taking Gina’s class for quite some time. I had just had a hard time rousing myself early enough to get there. (Ok, who am I kidding? By the time I wake up on the weekend that class is long over.) But once I saw how busy the beach already was as I laid out my towel - better sand traction than a yoga mat - the punishingly early time made sense. Any later in the day and I would have had toddlers shoveling sand onto the back of my head during downward-facing dog.
In about one minute, any crankiness I had from waking up before 7am on a Sunday was gone. The sun was shining, the waves were lapping the shore just feet from where we sat, and Gina’s cheery disposition was infectious. As she welcomed us to the class - the crowd of 15 or so was a mix of tourists (I could tell from the fact that they were doing yoga in regular clothing and/or bathing suits) and die-hard yogis (I could tell from the fact that they were much, much better at inversions than I am) - Gina dropped some of the punniest jokes I’ve heard since elementary school. “Who tried to fly before the Wright Brothers?” she asked us. “The Wrong Brothers,” the man next to me groaned. The first couple of them were total sinkers (see? you can’t help it), but as we progressed to more challenging moves, we were all grateful to have something to distract us from our burning thigh muscles in our fourth iteration of awkward chair pose.
Beach yoga is different than the practice that I’m used to. People do yoga for all kinds of reasons: stretching, meditation, strength, weight loss, rehabilitation. I love all of the health benefits, but I do it because it quiets my mind and recharges my batteries. Because of all of the external stimuli at the beach - the waves coming in, the seagulls flying overhead, the people walking by, the moving sand under (and on) my towel, Gina’s jokes as she led the class - I didn’t experience that same fullness of being out of my head. But I did experience other things: the waves coming in, the seagulls overhead, the sand under me… you get the idea. It was everything I love about the beach, with the added bonus of spending an hour stretching and namaste-ing my way into a beautiful sunny day. After the class was over I felt wide awake, totally envigorated, and ready to spend the rest of the day being a beach bum. For that, I can brave an early morning. Gina teaches beach yoga daily through the beginning of September, and every day at Natural Fitness Yoga. 76 Narragansett Avenue, Narragansett.