Have you considered taking your yoga practice out of the studio and into nature? Imagine deepening your poses in one of the most beautiful, blissful environments: the beach. Picture it − uplifting sunshine, fresh sea air, and the awe-inspiring beauty of sea meeting sky… One of the (many) great things about yoga is that you can take it anywhere. No gyms, workout buddies or fancy equipment required. This makes yoga ideal for staying in shape while on an island holiday on Phu Quoc.
Yoga − which means ‘to yolk’ or ‘join’ – joins body, mind and spirit. It connects you to yourself, and surroundings. Practice your poses near the sea to be at one with the ocean’s sights, sounds and scents. Idyllic, right? What’s more, there are scientifically proven benefits. In fact, nothing’s more ‘Namaste’ than deepening your practice on the beach.
Yogis will tell you: After a session, they’re blissed out. Scientifically, yoga’s been proven to lower stress, depression and anxiety. How? Practicing yoga regularly lowers cortisol, the primary stress hormone. It also increases levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is often low among those with mood and anxiety disorders. Yoga can make you smarter, too, by improving the brain’s executive functions.
But yoga’s positive impact goes beyond the mental. Practicing yoga can help the 80% of adults who suffer from lower back pain. Migraine sufferers should take up the discipline, too. It stimulates the vagus nerve, providing relief. And by reducing BMI (body mass index), blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol, yoga lessons the risk factors for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Phu Quoc is famous for its gorgeous bays and stretches of inviting white sand. It’s also possibly the only place in Vietnam where you can experience both sunrise and sunset on the beach. Start your day with Sun Salutations on the East coast. End with a gentle flow session as the sun sets on the West.
Early risers can begin the day by greeting the sun as it makes its first appearance. Those enjoying an upmarket stay south-west of the island should try the highly-rated Bai Khem Beach. Further up on the West is Bai Sao. With its clean sand, clear waters and rugged beauty, it’s a must. Or take a ride to more remote beaches up North, which offer views of Cambodia. Bai Thom Beach is one secluded option. A more popular one is Starfish Beach. (But kindly leave the starfish in peace.)
At the end of another gorgeous day on the island, give thanks with sunset yoga as you enjoy the gently lapping waves, cool breeze, and streaks of pink decorating the sky. North of the main town lies Ong Lang. This much-loved beach features volcanic rock pools and is backed by greenery − perfect for those who like to do yoga on the grass. There are also many options on Long Beach, which stretches 20 kilometers from Duong Dong on the West. Stroll along the northern end and pick your spot. On the central section there’s Sunset Sanato Beach Club. Here, you can add your silhouette to those created by beach sculptures for a stand-out #beachyoga shot. Or head to the palms at Three Coconut Tree Beach. The ‘Phu Quoc’ sign in the sand is a great prop for posing against.
Whatever time of day or beach you choose, treating yourself to a dose of ‘beach yoga therapy’ on Phu Quoc will bring you added benefits:
BLUE-ZONE BLISS: Phu Quoc is renowned for its inviting turquoise waters. Being beside these calms body and mind because beaches are ‘blue spaces’, which put us in a state of soft attention. Clinical psychologist Richard Shuster says, “Staring at the ocean changes our brain waves' frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.” When you tap into this state by doing yoga on one of the island’s beautiful beaches, you stress less and think more creatively.
VITAMIN D: While the North of Vietnam is often overcast, the South is all about sunshine. Catching some rays while you play with poses on your chosen beach will give you a boost of Vitamin D. This vitamin, essential for bone and muscle health, helps combat SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
FRESH SEA AIR: There’s a reason an island’s sea air feels so invigorating. It’s charged with beneficial negative ions (oxygen atoms that include negatively charged electrons). They increase the lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen, delivering feel-good serotonin and calming the brain.
SAND SUPPORT: Phu Quoc beaches boast that fine white sand that holiday-makers dream of. So you can ditch the mat, pillow, and bolster, and let the soft sand help you perfect those trickier balancing asanas. The unstable surface strengthens secondary muscles. And if you fall, it’s less of a shock than on a hard studio floor. (And more fun!)
SEAWATER: The seas surrounding Phu Quoc are mostly gentle, with softly lapping sounds reminiscent of meditation music. But did you know that saltwater is also antifungal, antibacterial, and packed with iodine? When swimming, your skin will absorb this anti-carcinogenic trace element − great for the immune system.
MIX YOUR ROUTINE: Another bonus of doing yoga beach-side? You can enjoy other activities before or after. Why not try out one of the island’s many gorgeous snorkeling spots?