I have spent a lot of time at the beach over the past few weeks. I have always felt the power of the sea, I think people are born with an affinity for certain outdoor settings. For me, the ocean air has a profound effect. My (almost) daily routine, year round, includes a walk to the beach. I have been there in the dark at 6 AM in February at 10 degrees, and have experienced beautiful July sunrises, temperature nearing 80 at the same time of day. The sand beneath my feet, the briny smell, the breeze on my skin; I am not sure I can pinpoint exactly what it is, I know that it engages all of my senses and is often an antidote for the blues or whatever ails or provides extra joy to an already good mood. I find peace and calm when sitting near the beach, listening to the rhythm of the waves, the calls of the birds; I love the strong briny smell (my friend Pat calls it the Galilee smell - yes even that intense bait version makes me happy). Even on the most non descript days, when nothing significant is happening, I feel the power of the sea. Others reading this may feel the same about the mountains, their lakeside paradise, hiking in the Everglades…As a firm believer in homeopathic and other alternative medicines, I have learned that there is a question on many of the initial patient surveys about what natural environment you feel best in. Clearly, affirmation for the mind/body/environment connection.
So, taking inspiration from the sea for this week’s practice.....
Our Practice – Invoking the Ocean with Down Dog to Plank Flow
In my classes, I often practice a combination of down dog and plank that I liken to invoking the sea. To do this, we start in down dog. Lifting up on tip toes, wave forward to plank, hold, then dropping our knees toward (or to) the mat, undulate (wave) back to down dog invoking the waves receding. This stretches the posterior chain, strengthens the whole body (especially the core and arms) and is fun!
I loved the book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh written in 1955 called Gift From The Sea. In the book, which was the best selling non fiction book that year, she uses the sea and in particular individual shells as organizing metaphors for each chapter. Her book was written during a 2 week visit to Captiva and it is a collection of meditations on youth and aging, love and marriage, solitude and contentment. I absolutely loved it when it was recommended to me by my friend Vicky many years ago. I had borrowed it from the library then and was thrilled to receive a copy of it from my friend Lisa for my recent birthday. Reading her inscription I realized how powerful this book has been for many of us who have read it. I can understand the author being drawn to a quiet, meditative, solo week at the beach to reflect and take stock (she was joined the second week by her sister).
Below is a NPR piece about the book and its author.
There are many wonderful quotes in the book on life, love, solitude. I will indeed continue to return to it for more inspiration and will surely share. There is one chapter inspired by the oyster shell that I particularly love. Since we are speaking of the power of the sea, this week, I remark on how time at the sea was so restorative and powerful for Anne Lindbergh and resulted in such an beloved work.
I remember telling my husband once, when our sons were pretty young, I would like to get one of those one room houses in Chicxulub (a small beach village in Mexico near my uncle and aunts house) and be in there for a week or two totally alone, walking the beach, reading, and eating the fruit from the little market. I remember him asking “without me?” I tried to explain that I loved vacationing with him and being with him, but I was just fantasizing about the restorative power of solitude. I suspect then it was more due to exhaustion as a new mom with active boys!
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
Nurturing with Food – Nana’s Cucumber Salad
Full disclosure, while I was away, I was not developing or trying new recipes (although we made both the tabouli and the chickpea salad from the website and enjoyed them on the beach!). Another hot weather favorite is a cool cucumber salad that I remember my grandmother making every day when we visited my grandparents in the summer at their home in Mount Kisco, NY. Of course, I am sure she made it every night since her garden was likely full of more cucumbers than she could eat or pickle fast enough. This is really refreshing on a hot evening…great for picnics.
See you on the mat!