H2...OM: The Magic of Water and YogaJan 27, 2022 01:00PM ● By KATHY MONTGOMERY
The health benefits of being on or near the beach are well-documented. Exposure to the sun and ocean air is good for your mental health. Blue spaces like oceans, lakes, ponds, and swimming pools have all been linked to overall wellness.
The practice of yoga is also connected to water, with yoga dedicated to understanding the effects of the five main elements of the universe—water, earth, fire, air/wind, ether/space—on the human body.
As a result, it seems only natural for Vibe Yoga founder Lindsay Smith to combine yoga and water by offering stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga and yoga retreats on Fort Myers Beach.
Stand Up and Paddle for Yoga
SUP yoga brings the practice to the water, with participants taking class on stand-up paddleboards rather than on the mat. Because the board is moving, the practice requires different skills than yoga in a studio.
“If you’re wondering why someone would choose to do yoga on a wobbly surface like a stand-up paddleboard, you’re not alone,” says Smith. “After all, isn’t it hard enough to hold those poses on solid ground? It’s a common question, but as you’ll come to find out when you give it a try, doing yoga on a paddleboard is not as hard as it looks, and it even offers opportunities that a land-based practice doesn’t. SUP yoga can be a delightful way to experience nature and invigorate or start your yoga practice.”
Lorraine Ladish, founder and CEO of Viva Fifty, a bilingual community that celebrates life after age 50, began practicing yoga when she was 13. A fitness and dance instructor, she came back to yoga at age 51 after a running injury and completed 500 hours of yoga training. When Covid-19 kept her entire family inside, she decided to try SUP yoga for her sanity.
“The first time it was like starting yoga over,” says the experienced paddleboarder. “Your base is moving. You must be so focused so that you and the board are one. It benefits you because it’s doing something new.”
Participants in Vibe Yoga’s SUP classes do not need to have yoga or paddleboard experience, or even a paddleboard. SUP yoga teachers work with all levels of students from those with no experience to people like Ladish.
“It’s a chance to meet other people and get to know the area from another perspective,” Ladish says. “It feels like a retreat.”
Yoga Beach Retreats
Speaking of retreats, yoga on the beach makes sense for the same reasons that SUP yoga does.
Taking advantage of her Fort Myers Beach rental property, Coco Loco, Smith also offers yoga retreats and yoga teacher training for up to eight people. The offerings include both SUP and beach yoga.
Crystal Gray, an Illinois-based international yoga teacher, coach, and speaker, typically plans an annual yoga retreat in Costa Rica. When the pandemic impacted her ability to count on travel, she connected with Smith on a Facebook group for yoga retreats.
The six-night yoga retreat attracted yogis from all over the United States to relax and unwind. Each day included yoga on the beach, an art therapy project, and an evening meditation.
“The idea is to connect with other people, learn, and then go out into the world,” Gray says.
She said Smith’s 20-year background in the hospitality industry makes the retreats seamless, and Coco Loco is within walking distance of the beach. Smith provides meals for the participants, including accommodating special requests like gluten-free and vegan dishes. A luxury picnic on the beach, set up and catered by Smith, is a fitting way to end the retreat.
For information on SUP yoga classes and retreats, visit VibeYogaSWFL.com.
Kathy Montgomery has been writing for more than 30 years about Southwest Florida and the interesting people who live in the region.
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