“Spirit”ual Yoga on the Sea

“Spirit”ual Yoga on the Sea

A different way to relax on the water

By Blair Shiver

Bostonian Jaymie Cameron takes as many long weekends as possible from her Health Care IT job to visit her grandmother in Islamorada.

When she planned a trip last weekend, she searched online for yoga studios in the area, and fortunately found Sandy Hastings just down the road in Duck Key.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do yoga on a boat?’” she pondered. “This has been amazing!”

Donna Blaszcak a mate aboard The Spirit snorkel boat, and Jaymie Cameron (top), a visitor from Boston, stretch and breath in a side twist with prayer hands pose during the sunset yoga cruise with instructor Sandy Hastings.

Yogis around the globe are familiar with centering exercises that open classes. Yoga refers to an ancient practice of physical, mental and spiritual meditation whose goal is the attainment of spiritual insight and tranquility, and what better way to meditate than aboard a boat?

As The Spirit, appropriately named, snorkel boat based at Porky’s Bayside BBQ was anchored just inshore on the gulf side of Marathon, Hastings, an Ananda and IYT Certified Instructor, encouraged her dozen some odd yogis to conduct their “body scans” – a practice that also opens many classes and encourages participants to become aware of their own body’s messages.

“Begin at the top of your head, your seventh chakra, and work your way down, noticing any pain or tension and breathing into those muscles,” she advised. “Feel the rocking of the boat, the sound of the water and the breeze.”

Through a series of stretching movements, breathing techniques and focused balancing tailored for gentle through advanced yoga, Hastings carefully provides individual instruction for each student. That was something with which Cameron was particularly pleased.

“My mom is always looking for a place to do yoga when she’s down with my dad, but she’s always worried that she’s not going to be doing it right,” she laughed. “I can’t wait to tell her about this class.”

The Shavasana portion of the class comes at the end of each practice, and Hastings has perfectly timed her instruction to end with the setting of the sun. The ambient music played in the background as yogis secured their wispy locks and settled into a relaxed seated position to watch the sun set over the Florida Bay.

Regina Hardy was a lucky yogi Sunday evening as she caught the elusive green flash at sunset following the concluding shavasana, or meditative period at the end of each yoga session.

The trip is not over after the concluding relaxing and re-centering corpse pose. Hastings was quick to break out several dishes of crudités, snacks and complimentary wine for the cocktail hour portion of the cruise.

As the winds of the winter seas calm into the summer months, Hastings will be offering more frequent yoga on the sea trips aboard The Spirit snorkeling catamaran. One of her most popular trips to date is the Fourth of July trip that includes an hour-long sunset yoga session followed by heavy hors d’oeuvres, libations and the Middle Keys’ most spectacular fireworks show.

For more information about Hastings’ class schedule or special on the water instruction, visit www.yogaonthesea.com or call (305) 289-8441.

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