Eyes closed. Attention inwards. Muscles relaxed. The early morning sun against a cloudless sky scans every inch of your body, blanketing it with a warmth that gives you goosebumps. It’s about 8:30 am when a group of 10 settles with their hands at heart-center, sit bones rooted on a stand-up paddle board, ready to begin their hour-long yoga practice. Instructor Siobhan Beasley brings awareness to the present moment, although you may find the present moment particularly hard to miss.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday morning, Vineyard guests and residents gather at the barrier beach before Jaws Bridge, outside the shacks of Chick Stapleton’s Island Spirit Kayak. Energy is high, the excitement is rich, and the staff makes you feel like you’re on vacation, whether or not you actually are. Ms. Beasley goes over the basics of stand-up paddle boarding, easing any hesitations for first-timers, before getting right to it.
It’s about a 10-minute paddle across Sengekontacket Pond to a private shallow area, where everyone drops their mini-anchor. The practice begins with traditional opening exercises, connecting the spaces between physical presence, environmental surroundings, and inner intentions. The world quiets down, and its natural sounds trickle in and out of our awareness. Birds chatter softly as each board gently rocks against the soft waves of the tide. A light breeze, the salty air, and a shining sun grace all of our senses. The calmness is almost disorienting.
As tranquil as this all sounds, the class is still for everyone, even if you’re not looking to get lost in the zen zone. It’s first and foremost about the fun in testing your balance. Everyone’s in it together, and there’s a playful camaraderie in seeing what poses might throw you off your feet. It’s also easy to adjust positions to match wherever you are in your practice. It could be your millionth time in a downward-dog or your first time sitting crossed-legged — you’ll still get something out of this morning on the water.
Ms. Beasley started teaching paddle-board yoga with Island Spirit Kayak three years ago. She also teaches at Yoga on the Vine, Yoga Haven, and several of the Island schools. Teaching from the water is one of her favorite spots.
“The connection with nature here is so amazing. I mean, it’s in your face. We’re on top of the water; there’s a gentle breeze, the sun, the birds, everything,” Ms. Beasley said. “Being out here allows your mind to get quieter than usual.”
Island Spirit Kayak offers stand-up paddle board and kayak tours as well as rentals. The yoga classes run from 8 until 9:30 am, and a 7:45am arrival time is suggested. Ms. Beasley is happy to coordinate custom classes for those whose schedules don’t align with Island Spirit’s. For more information, visit islandspiritkayak.com.
This article by Brittany Bowker originally appeared on mvtimes.com.