A guide to yoga in Sarasota County

Palm trees aren't the only Floridians who can't resist the chance to bend and breathe in the coastal breeze and stretch their limbs in the year-round sunshine: Sarasota County is home to a thriving yoga community. 

A fulfilling yoga practice may be relaxing and rejuvenating, challenging and empowering, or light and playful -- and Sarasota County offers a taste of every style -- from gentle restorative yoga classes that are designed to melt away stress and tension, to challenging "hot power" classes where students sweat out their toxins to the pace of intense strength and flexibility-building yogic workouts in heated studios. Sarasota County also offers adventurous yogis the chance to float through their postures on the water in stand-up paddleboard yoga classes, and in the air in aerial yoga studios. We've compiled a yoga overview to help you find the best option for getting your body bendy in Sarasota County.

The last thing a vacation should be is stressful, but let's face it: Traveling can take its toll. The good news is that there is a cure for the stiff muscles and headaches that tend to accompany weary travelers who endure long airport security lines, slow moving traffic, harried hotel check-ins and last-minute packing panic en route to paradise. Restorative yoga is a gentle, healing practice designed to melt away stress and tension with lasting relaxation benefits that will stay with you for the duration of your vacation.

Studios around town each offer a broad tapestry of gentle and restorative classes that are suited to provide physical and emotional relief for all body types and fitness levels. Students of all ages can enjoy the lasting sense of tranquility derived from the gentle muscle stretching and breathing techniques practiced in these studios.

Pineapple Yoga Studio located in the historic Burns Court provides a wide array of yoga and movement classes. This studio has a patio space with free wifi, comfortable seating and is a perfect location to meet new friends on vacation. Classes include introduction to yoga, power vinyasa, yoga and meditation, restorative yoga and even children's yoga.

Mandala Med-Spa and Yoga Shala offers classes Monday through Saturday and is focused on gentle and hatha yoga. The spa also offers several types of massage services, including hot stone and bamboo fusion, as well as traditional Thai massage services. The med spa is truly a relaxing way to start and/or end a vacation.

How about yoga on the relaxing beach? Southwest Florida Beach Yoga offers free yoga on quiet white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Classes include morning, sunset, full moon and stand up paddle board sessions at Venice, Nokomis and Manasota Beaches.

Yoga may be an ancient tradition, but it is in a constant state of evolution, with new and innovative practices and techniques emerging seemingly every day. Some of the newest trends to emerge in yoga are the practices of standup paddleboard and aerial yoga. These classes offer all of the challenges and benefits of traditional yoga, with a side of fun and adventure.

Transcendentalist philosophers of the 19th century such as Henry David Thoreau were among the first practitioners of yoga in the United States, who recognized the interplay between the serenity of the practice and that of nature. In addition to presenting a physical balance challenge on the water, standup paddleboard yoga gives students a one-of-a-kind opportunity to immerse themselves in nature as they tune in with their practice. In Sarasota County's breathtaking subtropical settings, this is an opportunity that is not to be missed.

Yoga is not only available on both land and water in Sarasota County, but also in the air! The practice may appear intimidating at first, but aerial yoga is a very beginner-friendly practice that is easier to "get the hang of" than it looks -- anyone can hang upside down! Not only is aerial yoga an exhilarating way to practice yoga-inspired postures that allow students to feel like circus trapeze artists, but it provides multiple physical benefits in the midst of all the fun: Simply hanging upside down in an aerial swing provides an automatic 35% decrease in spinal tension, allows the muscles in the back and neck to relax, stretches apart tight vertebrae, and allows for greater movement of spinal fluid around the discs. Inversions in aerial yoga also stimulate the brain, enhance the mood and lower blood pressure--all stress-relief benefits packed into one exciting flying yoga practice!

From classes that are gently restorative and stress-cooling to physically challenging and inner heat-building; on land and sea and in the air, yoga in Sarasota County is everywhere. Whether it's peaceful quiet and relaxation or the thrill of a fun new adventure you seek during your visit, the yoga community has something to offer to any and everyone interested in exploring yoga. We look forward to seeing you on the mat--or perhaps on the paddleboard, or in the aerial yoga hammock!