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Renée C. Gage
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Renée C. Gage
“Yoga works on each individual for his or her growth and betterment, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is meant for the whole of humanity.” B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga is often considered the science of life, as it creates an opportunity for one to focus upon the body, mind, breath, and soul. From beginners to advanced students, yoga is fully accessible through the use of props, modifications of the poses, and practice. The expectation and/or belief may be that the practice of yoga happens exclusively in yoga studios. However, the thriving and growing yoga community on the Island and its surrounding areas are finding that classes can happen in nontraditional and creative spaces, too!
“Yoga & Wine Night” at Island Time Sushi Bar & Grill is every Monday evening. Formed through a partnership and friendship, owner Romeo “Sonny” Galindo opened the lounge space of the restaurant to yoga instructor Leah Bess Murray. She began to offer a donation-based class, and invited those taking the class to stick around for a glass of wine, appetizers and/or dinner. It has since been quite the success, as it offers an inviting space for the practice alongside support for a local business. The class is made up of all levels of students, regulars and new faces alike.
Utilizing yet another local restaurant, also offered on a weekly basis is “Sunset Yoga” at Doc’s Seafood and Steaks. On Sunday evenings, you can join Erica Rose Bertero of BGB Yoga in this outdoor, donation-based class. Working with the idea of yoga in nontraditional spaces on the Island, as a long-term substitute for Murray’s “Yoga & Wine Night,” Erica modeled and formed a partnership with another local Island business. She worked with Roberta and Fred Soward, owners of Doc’s, to bring yoga to the outdoor deck, overlooking the gorgeous Intracoastal Waterway. If you have a love for sand, sea and yoga, this class offers an opportunity for all to practice. Stick around after the class for a cold brew and/or delicious items from Doc’s menu.
As yoga is happening in public spaces on the Island through great partnerships with local businesses, yoga can also be found in private spaces. Bertero also teaches private classes for individuals, small groups, and larger groups in a workshop setting. Teaching in a private setting allows for the personalization of an individual’s needs and goals. Group workshops can be designed according to the level of practice or with a theme in mind. For example, in March Bertero hosted a yoga workshop for women, “The Flawless Feminine” which included the practice, a group meditation and reflection in the privacy of a patron’s Island home.
“I enjoyed it very much. I especially liked the journaling and reflection aspect of it. Yoga is good not just for physical wellness, but also for mental health,” shared Loreal Robertson, a workshop attendee and local yoga student.
The Island is home to a number of certified yoga instructors who also teach in a private setting. Consider joining Nadine, of Nadine Bartelli Yoga. She has transformed her private, personal home’s outdoor deck into a mini-studio space situated on the canal. Offering donation-based public classes four days a week, from gentle to beginner, she offers instruction for all levels of practice. Bartelli also incorporates meditation and aromatherapy, to provide a well-rounded experience for the body, mind and soul.
As an added bonus, the beach happens to be another creative location for yoga classes on the Island. You can join Kim Onufrak, yoga instructor at Whitecap Crossfit, every Sunday afternoon for a power vinyasa flow. The class is free for members of Crossfit, and donation-based for nonmembers. When the weather allows, the class meets on the beach underneath Bob Hall Pier. Families find this class convenient; parents can work out while the kids play on the beach!
If you head over to Island Fitness, while it may seem like a traditional gym, a small studio space can be found in which yoga takes place throughout the week. Though not an official yoga studio, yogis have made it their time and space to practice. Jan Freeman teaches a mixed-level flow class, as well as gentle yoga. Bunny Chumski teaches a combination of an Abs class paired with an intermediate yoga class.
The future of yoga on the Island can be seen through the growth and inclusion of the practice at upcoming events. The Island Farmers Market is held every other Thursday, which features a donation-based yoga class taught by Island yoga instructors such as Onufrak, Bertero and Bartelli.
With an amazing array of indoor and outdoor locations, the Island is home to a growing number of yoga students and teachers alike. Whether you live on the Island or in the city, a beginner or advanced, male or female, there is a yoga class for everyone. Choose a place and time – and we’ll see you on the mat!