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Yoga takes to the beach

By Alix Norman

Apparently, we’re having a cool, cool summer. Not, perhaps by British standards – where the recent 30-degree heatwave floored half the nation – but certainly in relation to the normally searing temperatures of a Mediterranean July (although anyone in Nicosia over the last few days might dispute that). And this unusual weather is allowing us to really appreciate summer: we all seem to have more energy to get out and about, and try all sorts of lovely things. Such as yoga. But this time it’s yoga with a difference: forget fighting for inner-city parking spaces to attend classes in stuffy studios. This week, yoga is taking to the ultimate outdoor location, perfect in these wonderfully cool conditions: the beach.

Courtesy of the Vedanta Yoga Centre, this week sees Limassol’s Dasoudi Beach becoming a haven of calm and relaxation for the Beach Yoga Fest. Underneath the eucalyptus and pines, shaded from the sun and caressed by the sea breeze – surely there’s no better location in which to lose the stress and find some peace?

“There are a great many advantages to practising yoga next to the sea,” explains Peter Petrou, founder of the Vedanta Yoga Centre and long-time aficionado of this ancient practice. “It creates a different vibe and energy; there’s an incredibly positive feeling to it. And the spot we use is particularly great for deep relaxation.” Taking place in the centre of a circle of trees, right next to the waves, there’s a unique energy to this location, he adds. And the Centre’s teachers take advantage of this on a regular basis.

“Although this is the first time we’ve held a Beach Yoga Festival, many of our teachers hold classes outside fairly often,” says Peter. “Sometimes it’s in the park next to the Centre where, again, the trees allow for a really positive energy; at others we head to the beach. It’s quite a special place,” he adds. “You tend to find that when people do Shavasanaat the end of the session, they find it very deeply relaxing – it’s the effect of being outdoors, and near to the sea.”

With two sessions, each including two simultaneous classes, there’s going to be something for everyone on the day. Hatha classes, a dynamic heart opening anusara practice and a flowing heat building ashtanga class will allow for both beginners and experts to get their yoga on. “The first session,” says Peter, “will run for about an hour and 15 minutes, and will include both a softer and a more dynamic class. At around 6.30pm, we’ll run the second session” – which will also comprise two classes aimed at different levels – “before closing with a sunset session of pranayama and deep relaxation, to the sound of the sea lapping against the shore.” Now doesn’t that sound like just what you need to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life?

“Yoga,” says Peter, “is a wonderful antidote to stress. The financial crisis, the busy-ness, the prevalence of technology – people seem to be getting busier and busier, but achieving less and less. And slowly, it all eats into your personal life and you end up with no time, and no chance to relax. And that’s where yoga comes in. It’s one of the few things that can really relax you – mentally and physically. As a form of light meditation and deep relaxation, it recharges your batteries, answers your questions, and helps you to think more clearly.”

Now if that’s not the inducement you need to take an evening out of your busy schedule and head down to the beach for the ultimate in yogic respite, nothing is! Plus, if you’re new to yoga, the Beach Fest is the perfect jumping off point: not only will you be led gently through the basics by accomplished teachers, you’ll also have the chance to find out a bit more about yoga in general.

“This is the first year we’ve been running as a really big centre,” Peter explains. “We have more teachers involved now, and more going on, so in a way the festival is a thank you to all of those who have participated over the past months. But it’s also a great opportunity for people to see what we do, to learn more about our upcoming events and decide if they’d like to try our classes on a regular basis. After all,” he concludes, “the word ‘Vedanta’ refers to a yoga philosophy that’s all about being one, and being connected with others.” And where better to experience that connection with nature – and with others – than on the beach? During a cool, cool summer.
Beach Yoga Festival
5 to 8pm on July 25 at Dasoudi beach in Limassol. Participation is free of charge, and everyone is welcome. Bring a towel or beach mat, and a bottle of water. For more information, call 25 001930, email [email protected], or visit www.vedantayoga.net, or the Facebook page ‘Vedanta Yoga Centre’

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