Palette Magazine

South Florida Yoga Escapes

Julie Balter

The Dharmi Insitute stand-up paddleboard yoga session on the bay
The Dharmi Insitute stand-up paddleboard yoga session on the bay

Let’s face it: Yoga is not your go-to gay fitness activity. It lacks the sexy sizzle of the pick-up gym scene. Its non-compete clause seems sissy-ish compared to, say, the women’s roller derby team. Then again, yogis will argue it’s an oranges to mangos comparison: a yoga practice is actually less sport and more lifestyle.

Even if you’ve never gone downward dog before, consider this: yoga is not only a super stress-reliever, it’s a terrific tamer for our internal crazy-talk. Not that you or anyone you know might do that. But if your interest is warming, you’d be pleased to know South Florida’s yoga classes and retreats come in every level, shape and style. Winter high-season is when the yoga rock-star teachers typically fly their mats into town for workshops, but come summer you can indulge in local experiences that are as exceptional and eclectic as the tropical landscape.

Warm Up

Start your practice chanting an ancient Florida Keys’ mantra: “We don’t care how you do it up north.” Case in point, in Marathon your sun salutations come with a sunset cruise, wine and cheese. Book a reservation with Yoga on the Sea — but only after you’ve had a lazy hammock nap.

Standing Poses

If that seems a little too low-key, stop by the Dharmi Institute in Key Biscayne for a yoga session right on the water. Whether on the bay atop a stand-up paddleboard or in a pool on a specialized yoga WaterMat®, this is no-compromises yoga. You’ll definitely either achieve balance or become one with the most abundant element around you. Beginners, please note: It’s not how well you balance, but how much you laugh when you fall.

Want more hipster with your hip openers? Then check into The Standard Spa Miami Beach. Locals love Friday night H2OM: A 90-minute class — often chilled with live music — that includes full use of the hamam sauna and steam room. Daily classes and retreats are also offered year-round, from ashram weekend to aromatherapy workshops. End your evenings floating in the pool, fixing a soft gaze on Miami’s skyline.

Forward Bends

Now, let’s get heated. Leave your Lululemons at home — in fact, leave all of your clothing at home — because you’re headed to Wilton Manors to try out Men’s Freedom Yoga! It’s like this: It’s nude. It’s all men. And they’re doing yoga. Or, as Push Fitness describes,  they’re enhancing their “body’s ability to stretch and bend without the restriction of fabric.” Okay, just try not to peek during savasana.

Say Ohm

When it comes to personal care, we know Palm Beachers like their pampering. I suggest a retreat or day pass to the world-famous hotel, The Breakers. Naturally, there are oceanside yoga classes. The fitness and spa center also offers personalized health and wellness consultations, private meditation and yoga instruction. Maybe a private yoga session sounds a little Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s an amazing opportunity to deepen your practice and receive the special attention you deserve.

Because when it comes right down to it, whether you’re working on your hammock-asana, or perfecting your handstand, yoga is all about treating yourself — and one another — with awesome, loving care.

Advanced Class

After sampling South Florida’s summer yoga retreats, you’re ready for the annual Yoga Journal Live! conference, held November 12 – 16, 2015 at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida. From Cyndi Lee to Rodney Yee, the biggest names in yoga will be there.

So should you!