At its most basic level, a yoga practice is meant to help one discover what’s inside.
Millions of Americans take classes in studios and at fitness clubs, and many practice in the privacy of their homes, perhaps following along with an instructor on a video or DVD. But there are others who believe that being outside, in nature, is far and away the best place to practice. Sasha Reljic, who runs Sasha’s Yoga and Massage Studio in South Dennis, is among them.
Reljic, a native of Zagreb, Croatia, has been teaching yoga on Cape Cod for about four years. She’s been practicing for 15 years. Along with indoor yoga year-round, Reljic leads classes on the beach during summer.“Being surrounded by nature is very inspiring,” she says. “On the beach, you feel the breeze, you see the water, you hear the birds.”
Reljic, who practices Zen Yoga, using Hatha Yoga poses done in repetition, offers yoga on the beach every Saturday morning in July and August. Class starts at 7:30 a.m. and lasts a little more than an hour. She uses a Nantucket Sound beach, at the end of South Village Road in West Dennis.
“Early in the day or late in the day is the best time for beach yoga,” she says, adding that her students, who usually number anywhere from five to 15, “take up a small corner of the beach so as not to get in the way of other people.”
“The sand is a very different surface to work on. There are some very good things about it and some not so good,” she says.
First, forget about using a mat.
“Sand sticks to the mats and makes the practice more difficult. On the beach, I recommend using a towel instead. And you can sometimes manipulate the sand to support certain areas,” says Reljic. For example, while doing a shoulder stand, “you can move as much sand as you need into the space between your neck and shoulders.”
Standing poses, she says, can be very difficult on sand.
“Any balancing poses are going to be the most challenging on sand,” and with downward dog or any pose in which you are lying face down or on your back, you’ve got to use the towel.
In some ways, Reljic says, sand can be a great benefit to a practice.
“There’s less fear. If you fall onto a wooden floor you can really get hurt. If you fall on sand, there’s a natural cushion.”
Reljic, who charges $5 for a beach yoga class, says her students love practicing near the ocean.
“Some [passersby] don’t have any idea what we’re doing, but others sometimes ask to join in,” she says.“For some reason, there’s a feeling that you can do more with your practice outside,” she says, adding, “It’s a very great challenge . . . .to adapt to the place where you are.”
Reljic’s studio is on Route 134 in South Dennis. Her phone number is (508) 760-5339.
By Donna Tunney Photography by Kindra Clineff, Fall 2003