When was the last time you laid on your back, arms wide open, stared at the open sky above you, and simply surrendered yourself to this big beautiful world?
There I was… my back resting firmly on a stand-up paddle board, safely anchored near what felt like the tip of the earth, in the lower Florida Keys. The sounds of the water softly brushed the sides of the board, the light rustle of mangrove tree leaves danced past my ears, and the faint chirps of shore birds dissolved into the cloudy sky. This was my first time on a stand-up paddle board, and certainly my first time taking a yoga class on one.
Sometimes even a vacation can feel like you’re working… the reservations, the driving, the organizing, the planning, the (trying to fit as much stuff as you can because you only have this many days to do it in)… and so on. That’s why when I found out that Bahia Honda State Park in the Big Pine Key has an awesome yoga instructor in the park offering lessons, I was totally on board (literally), and ready for some true relaxation in the Florida Keys!
Sarah Sullivan and her company, Serenity Eco Therapy, provides “Mental Balance Through Natural Balance” by means of private paddle board yoga therapeutics and fitness in the Florida Keys. Sarah is an absolutely amazing instructor and what really made this a fantastic experience for me! As soon as I met Sarah, I felt like I knew her for years, she was super friendly, knowledgeable, and made everyone feel comfortable.
This form of ecotherapy is immensely relaxing, but also a delightful physical workout. While stand-up paddle boarding, you keep a strong stance, knees slightly bent for stabilization, while holding an “A” shape between you and the paddle. Similarly to other paddle sports, your power comes from your core.
As we paddled over seagrass, sponges, and zigzagging fish, Sarah educated us about the natural environment, explaining how everything is connected, and how even in that moment, we were now connected with the environment as well. Then, a soft brown stingray glided underneath us through the clear water. Perfect harmony.
Floating past mangrove trees, we approached what Sarah called, “her office,” a hidden opening in the tangled mangroves. I felt like an adventurous child again, entering a magical secret hideout in the trees. We laid down on our boards to slide under hanging branches to enter the open space within the mangroves. Sarah pointed out the tiny dark brown mangrove tree crabs playing peek-a-boo in the tree limbs. She also showed us a dried up cone sponge that she had perched in her natural office for an interesting show-and-tell.
We floated our way back into the heart of the bay, anchor our boards, and begin our yoga class with a smooth transition into focused movement. I started to realize that after the first hour of paddling and exploring, I began to feel comfortable with my own balance on the board. No longer was I focusing on my balance alone, but I could now focus on my own movement connecting with the board.
After about an hour of core building, mussel toning, stretching and conditioning yoga, we stopped and suspended ourselves in time. We cooled down and laid with our shoulder-blades pressed firmly into our boards and just breathed as Sarah guided us through an empowering meditation.
While floating over crystal clear waters, my body felt strong, my mind felt refreshed, and my spirit was lifted.
Visit the Serenity Eco Therapy Facebook Page to find more information and to set up your next Florida Keys adventure with Sarah!
We Want To Hear From You!
Have you ever paddle boarded? What do you do to relax? Favorite part of the Florida Keys? Where’s the craziest//most interesting place you’ve ever done yoga??
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