By Rachel Grunwell
I'm on the white sands of Mount Maunganui Beach in the yoga mountain pose — also traditionally called tadasana yoga pose.
My big toes are touching, both knee caps are slightly lifted. My arms are relaxed by my sides and my chest is broadened. I'm standing tall, with just the right amount of effort and ease. I'm not rigid like a sergeant major, yet I don't have collapsed shoulders like a surly teenager.
This yoga pose, by the way, is a simple tool for improving your posture.
Do it every day to feel confident, hold "presence" and carry your body the way it's meant to be moved — in beautiful alignment.
I'm amongst 250 people doing this same mountain pose — a foundation pose in yoga.
The session is about living in the moment and was dubbed, Caught by the Dawn.
Behind us all is the green hump of Mauao mountain — also called The Mount by locals.
This place is the backbone of the community of Mount Maunganui. Thousands stride up or around her curves daily to feel grounded and uplifted.
So hundreds of men, women and children, of all ages and of all yoga abilities, are doing mountain pose in front of that beautiful mountain.
My feet are grounded in the grit of sand thick on my yoga mat — you can't shake the stuff, right? There's the most brilliant blue sky above and I can hear birds chirping.
The blazing early summer sun is warming my skin — even though it's only 7am. The waves are crashing as they wash into shore and then wash back out. It's so soothing.
The teacher guiding us in the vinyasa session is Barry Muntz, who teaches in Mount Maunganui at the House of Yoga and Mount Maunganui Golf Club, and is co-owner of B-ORA yoga. He tells us all to tune in our breath almost to the flow of the sea. Feel your breath slowly rise and fall, come and go, he says.
He then cues us to "lift the top of your head up towards the sky" in mountain pose. He's reminding us all not to get lost in the moment and not to collapse or slump in our good posture.
He then cues us to sweep our hands above our heads and 500 hands flow in time in that one beautiful moment skywards.
Yoga helps you stand well, move well, breathe well, feel well and live well.
It helps me to be mindful in the moment and calms my nervous system.
It also makes me smile, and it's a wonderful connector to others too.
The blissful blue-sky moment I'm describing was last Saturday. All those bodies gathered for the vinyasa flow session