Health News

Sand, waves seabirds and yoga a new recipe for health

MANATEE -- Sunset yoga on the beach.

Even the sound of it repeated over and over may bring relaxation.

But Manatee County residents and visitors can actually attend the real thing and for free.

Attracting yoga practitioners from beginners to advanced, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources offers the beach yoga class from 6 to 7 p.m. the last Wednesday of every month on Manatee County Public Beach, at the end of State Road 64, said Jeff Lightburne, fitness and wellness supervisor for Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources.

The class was offered on a trial basis last year and was brought back this year because the reaction was positive, Lightburne said.

"The first Sunset Yoga on the Beach in 2015 was in March and it drew a good crowd, but in April the crowd grew to more than 70, actually 75," Lightburne said.

The next class is 6-7 p.m. May 27 at the Manatee County Public Beach.

Those who have never done yoga but have a desire to see what it would be like outside, on sand, as the sun is setting, should not be intimidated, said Mallory Carteaux the instructor of the class.

"It's very gentle," Carteaux said. "I make a point to tell everyone what the modifications are and I allow extra breaks. Everyone can stay safe."

The style of yoga that Carteaux teaches is Vinyasa Flow Yoga,

She describes it as movement synchronized to breath.

"Every pose flows into the next one," Carteaux said.

It is said Vinyasa Flow Yoga looks like a dance. Carteaux teaches that being aware of breathing is part of the dance.

"This is a class for all levels," said Carteaux, who recommends participants bring a beach towel or blanket and water to drink. "It's very beginner friendly. It's basic."

One thing that beginner and expert will both get is the feeling of sand under their feet, the sounds of sea birds and gently lapping waves and the smell of salty air.

"That part is awesome," Carteaux said. "You are just there enjoying the breeze and sunshine and cool atmosphere. We don't play music. There are no mirrors. No one is comparing themselves to others."

So, who has been showing up for prior events?

"It's been a big mix," Carteaux said. "We've had all ages from late teens to 70s. We've even had moms bring their kids and the kids played in the sand while mom was doing yoga."

Carteaux, 28, has been practicing yoga for 10 years and teaching for more than a year. She's from Cleveland, Ohio, and has been working for Manatee County since

last August as a fitness coordinator. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and has a master's degree in exercise science.

"Personally, I practice yoga for the physical benefits," Carteaux said. "I like to gain flexibility and do cool, interesting strength poses. I enjoy balancing and standing on my hands. I enjoy connecting with my breathing and becoming more mindful of it."

One day there could be free "Yoga at the Preserve" at either Robinson Preserve in northwest Bradenton or Emerson Point Preserve in Palmetto, Lightburne said.

"We don't have the staff right now to do it, but we are thinking about it," Lightburne added.

After each sunset yoga class many of the students walk over to the nearby Cafe on the Beach for an hour of socializing, Lightburne said.

The Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources is offering the yoga class along with a full menu of exercise activities as part of a new community outreach.

"Mallory also teaches a metabolic conditioning class, a Tabata workout class and a boot camp class," Lightburne said.

Those classes are held at G.T. Bray Recreation Center in addition to Zumba, gentle aerobics, strengthen and lengthen, cycling and ballroom dance.

Ballroom dance is offered at 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays at G.T. Bray Recreation Center. It's free to members of the recreation center and $5 for drop ins, Lightburne said.

A membership at G.T. Bray Recreation Center also includes a swimming pool, tennis, racquetball, an indoor gym, a kid's club and a fitness center.

Classes at G.T. Bray Recreation Center are included with memberships that start at about $20 per month, or can be dropped in on for $5/class, Lightburne said.

Currently beach yoga is the only free program Manatee County is offering, but one Wednesday each month the county is also hosting a "Wellness Wednesday" screening at one of the Manatee County libraries where blood pressure, height, weight, body fat percentage, and waist and hip circumferences is taken, Carteaux said.

"Twice a year, in the fall and in the spring, we also host a free eight-week 'Couch to 5K' training program," Carteaux said.

More details about these events and other Manatee County future free programs can be found on the county's Facebook page G.T. Bray park, or

Mallory Carteaux can be reached at 941-742-5923, ext. 6007 or

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.