8 January 2008

Yoga on the Beach

Saturday 5th January 2008

What started as a natural urge to stretch out under the hot morning sun turned unexpectedly into a yoga practice on the beach today.

We’d driven down the coast to our favourite beach last night, where the rapidly shrinking Murray River enters the ocean. For thousands of years, this area was inhabited by aboriginal tribes, predominantly the Ngarrinndjerri until white people arrived and took possession of their land. Needless to say the land was used, abused, farmed and almost ruined by a culture unaware of its primal energies and sacred beauty. What’s left of this region and its wildlife is now protected but long term drought has reduced the Murray River mouth from a torrent to a quiet outlet into the southern ocean about 50 metres wide.

We slept on the sand, quite mesmerised by the brilliance and clarity of the starry night sky which is only illuminated like this when you’re far from the city lights.

He woke up to photograph the 6am sunrise. I peeped out from under the sleeping bag to catch a glimpse of the pink-orange dawn breaking above shadowy sand dunes, before drifting back to heavenly sleep, half drunk from a whole night of breathing pure ocean air.

An hour later we were brewing coffee over the little campfire before setting off to look for some waves. The deep powdery ridges of sand only allow for 4WD vehicles down this stretch of the beach but even in a 4WD it’s still not easy driving. A particularly soft spot consumed our wheels in one gulp and temporarily bogged us. We had to let the tyres down and push the 4WD until it picked up enough speed for the tyres to grip, then we took off down the long stretch of beach again.
Looking out the window, the surf had obviously dropped off since yesterday – not worth going out we decided - so we left the surfboards on the roof and took a dip in the ocean without the protection of wetsuits and boards.

Not surfing is such an anticlimax to a surf trip, no matter how much I tell myself that a long drive through the country and a night on the beach is a complete mini holiday and enough to breathe new life into my spirit.

What is it about the ocean that’s so wild yet irresistable?
Even after a swim I feel cleansed, as if it has washed clean my polluted energy field.
And then there’s the sea air – both energising and calming at the same time – it pranayams us by osmosis.

With the sand softly yielding under the weight of my footsteps, I watched groups of seabirds squawking and fluttering, taking off together to soar on the air current, separating and rejoining within their invisible elastic skyweb.
For a while after towelling dry I was happy to sit beneath the sand dunes and observe the activity: endless rolling breaking waves, multitudes of sea birds, flimsy sea breezes ruffling the sparse vegetation; a small group of people leisurely horseback riding, coaxing their animals in and out of the shallows, fishing families and outdoor adventurers cruising up and down the beach in their wagons occasionally waving our way.

I laid down with my book and read another chapter but only half of my heart was in it – the other half was tugging me back to the beach.
I put down the book and returned to the present, gazing into the ocean for a while before stretching out into a long forward bend. My body opened up to the vastness of this timeless landscape, my entire back exposed to the clear blue sky, my nose nudging my legs in a quiet moment of stillness and receptivity.
Somewhere within the fold, I dissolved into my surroundings, sliding effortlessly into harmony with nature. Time just evaporated. I came to and laid back on my towel in Supta Baddha Konasana, relishing every luscious little mound of sand responding to the undulations on my back, every micro move causing a slipping and reshaping of liquid grains to caress my form like an underglove.

A few minutes laterI rose, gazing again at the waves and folding my legs into Padmasana. Twisting around, my eyes followed, travelling along the horizon of sand dunes to the left then the right, then I took hold of my feet and bowed forward in Yoga Mudra, fully alive and present in the moment. Each pose has a hidden gift, only revealed in moments of grace...with arms bound behind me I could feel the straightjacket of all our human limitations, handicapped and stuck in this earthly existence, struggling to ascend, and yet with my forehead kissing the earth I was overcome with gratitude and humility for being alive.

The triangular base of Padmasana became a magical vortex, I wanted to stay longer so I arched back into Matsyasana, my head finding a little sand valley to settle into. Eyes closed only to be filled with the luminous orange of sunray brilliance.
When the pose started to fade I simply unfolded my legs toward the sky, gracefully lifting my arms to the same line, arching my upper back (Uttana Padasana) and forming another natural and organic shape on the coastline of this ancient land. The arch in my spine was strong so I intensified it with Urdhva Dhanurasana, letting the soft sand under the towel engulf my two hands and feet.

The yoga continued on, more forward bends and some twists, a Shoulderstand, Urdhva Padmasana, a Headstand...whatever felt right in the moment. Each time the clouds parted the raw heat of the sun penetrated my skin and flowed into my body, melting it open. The poses ebbed and flowed in a natural synergy with the elements around me: earth, water, heat and air.

This impromptu practice was the most organic I’ve ever experienced. It reflected back to me my growing love and appreciation of our connectedness to the natural landscape. We have natural bodies made of the same natural elements as all the life around us: trees wildlife, wind, warmth, rocks, the flow of rivers into the ocean, the tides, the silvery moon, the brilliant colours of sunrise and sunset.

All of these things and more are Nature…as are we.

We must realise in our hearts, not just in our minds, that all things that live, breathe and exist in animate or inanimate form are the parts that make up the One.
The entire Universe is One Being.
With that realisation, how can we possibly harm or abuse anything on this earth; for in doing so, we are harming ourself. Ahimsa will arise naturally from this realisation.
Somehow we must each realise in our hearts that All is One, so that our small selves can dissolve away to reveal the origin and magnitude of our True Self.
And that every human being is both the created and The Creator.


greenfrog said...

Then how can we possibly harm or abuse anything on this earth; for in doing so, we are harming ourself. Ahimsa will arise naturally from this realisation.

thanks much for this.

nobodhi said...

Your welcome. Thanks for listening.
After re-reading this post I edited a few bits so it might convey my experience a little better.

Arturo said...

Hi, how nice to find your blog. I look forward to reading it. Tell me, do you think the diet of Australians is healthier than those of Americans? Do restaurants there serve moderate portions, compared to the grose big portions of American restaurants? Could you compare Aussies to, say, the French or other Mediterranean countries, who generally speaking have a healthy diet?

nobodhi said...

I think the average Australian would eat a much healthier diet than the average American. Our population is very multicultural because of the large migration and settlement of Italians, Greeks and Asians over the past 50 years. The older generation (over 60s) probably still like their English meat and 3 vegetable dinners occasionally, but your average middle class Aussie would cook up quite an eclectic range in a typical week: chinese, indian, thai, italian etc. We're lucky to have such a huge variety of local and exotic fresh fruit and vegetables in the markets.
I think generally we go for food that is fresh, nourishing seasonal and quick, and the average Aussie family would probably eat a take away meal once or twice a week. Restaurants here generally go for quality over quantity, serving small to moderate portions of fresh tasty food rather than the enormous serves that Americans are used to. Hope that answers your questions...there’s a little synopsis here that might interest you: