Health & Fitness

Fitness escape to Diani beach

Kui Koinange at Diani Beach. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG
Kui Koinange at Diani Beach. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG 

Kui Wanyoike, a yoga instructor at the Leopard Beach Resort in Diani, says her early morning workout is superior to yours. Just because she breathes in clean air beside the white sandy beach while doing yoga everyday.

“I live by the sea. The seaside charm is irresistible especially for fitness fanatics. After doing yoga for about two hours, I jump into the ocean for a swim,” she says.

She describes her yoga at sea as a body clean-up and hopes to lure workaholics looking to escape their chaotic lives.

“Every yoga pose helps clean my body. Blood flows better and re-energises the body,” she says.

I join Kui at the beach for a fitness escape, doing yoga while gazing out on the Indian Ocean. I can’t help but fall in love with the waves slapping the shore.

I move like a yogini as Kui calls out the Sanskrit names of the poses (asanas).

For each restorative pose, I hold in position for about two minutes as Kui gives more instructions.

“Step with your legs apart. Hands spread out. Move your right foot outwards,” she instructs.

With our knees straight, we bend in unison like a teapot.

“Grab your big toe. Look at your left palm. Breathe in and out maintaining your gaze on the palm,” she continues.

12 poses

We repeat the moves targeting different body muscles followed by a cool-down session. We fall silent, listening only to the sound of our own breaths and the sea breeze.

Soothing sounds of waves crashing on the beach occasionally bring us back to reality.

Kui says unlike other forms of yoga, sun salutations involve making 12 poses (asanas) in a consecutive sequence while matching the moves with breathing.

“Sun salutation is part of Vinyasa yoga. The 12 postures create a flow which restores your body back to its optimum best,” she says.

Working out on the beach has many benefits to the mind, body and spirit. It cleanses our chaotic life with peaceful sounds of the sea and fills the lungs with more oxygen than normal.

Vegan yoga retreats

A number of hotels have been organising yoga fitness tours such as Fatuma’s Tower in Lamu which combines workouts with sunset dhow rides and incredible sea food.
Participants get to stretch as they listen to chirping sounds in the background of a light sea breeze.

“At lower attitude there is more oxygen. One’s breath at the sea level is also superior,” says the yoga trainer who also offers private beach lessons.

She also teaches participants poses that help hasten their metabolism.

The high heat levels allow the skin pores to open up during exercises resulting in heavy sweating which in turn flushes out toxins.

“At the beach, you absorb the sun rays better. Just like plants, we also need the sun for nourishment,” she says. Yoga on the beach works best when the air is still. I focus my energy to remain calm so as to synchronise my body with the rhythms of nature.

I have no shoes on because Kui says I have to feel the energy from the white sand. Shoeless fitness is growing in popularity as it improves balance and brings energy from the earth which is said to be therapeutic.

‘‘At the beach, you get healing benefits of earthing whereas in the fitness studio you stand on tiles or wooden floors. You can also do yoga on grass,” says the instructor.

Kui has been doing yoga for years and says it has strengthened her core muscles and improved her digestion.

“It gave me a stronger core and I am more flexible,” she says, adding that you can add squats to your beach workout.

Kui plans to hold yoga retreats to Diani.

“I will start with women who are looking for a breath of fresh air. I want to teach them yoga for four days where we all stay in the same place, do yoga, have massages and eat vegan food,” she said.