By: Diane Feen Contributing Writer
If you look around Delray Beach you can see a downward dog in the direction of your view. Small yoga and meditation studios are proliferating around town in tandem with the spiritual awakening of those who live here.
In the past, yoga and exercise classes were part of the fitness center routine. There were only a few yoga or stretch classes mixed between Zumba, aerobics and circuit training. It was more about strength training and moving the body to its maximum exertion.
That overall paradigm seems to be changing in a gentler direction. And, most people around town are happy about that.
“I was hit by a car when I was running years ago, and I suffered back and neck pain. I heard that doing Iyengar Yoga was a successful step in alleviating pain from injuries. Gradually the pain went away and now I am pain free,” said Colleen Gallagher, owner of iYoga in Delray.
If you’re a yogi, or just yoga curious, you might have heard about the hugely popular yoga classes at the Colony Hotel. Each Sunday the large ballroom in this historic hotel is filled to capacity with people stretching to the sky looking upward. There’s live music and an unspoken camaraderie for all that yoga has to offer – relaxation, meditation and a sense of well-being.
Owner Kelly Brookbank stays on the periphery while instructors like Pedro Luna and Terra Wood teach yoga modalities like Vinyasa and Yin and Yang. Brookbank’s yoga classes were one of the pioneers in the industry 13 years ago. The only difference is that classes are held every day of the week.
One of the newer players in the slow and steady race to enlightenment is Casa Mannabliss. This Zen space on Federal Highway has an ethereal quality to its essence and its ownership. Started last year by a group of yoga, meditation teachers, healers and educators, it offers classes like yoga, meditation, tai chi, sound, breathwork, and more. They also have workshops and special events that herald the more subtle vibration of human existence.
“We are not a yoga studio but more of a home and hub for conscious movement in Delray Beach,” said Vivian Demille, CEO of Casa Mannabliss.
Casa Mannabliss also has a spacious backyard with fire pit and beautiful garden that has the word Paradise written all over it. There are musical events, ceremonies that celebrate life and nature and space to roam.
“Delray Beach has such a sense of community, people join in and come together here. I’ve never seen any other community like this,” adds Demille, who is part of a group that gathered in people’s homes for spiritual practices and eventually opened Casa Mannabliss.
The vibe is intertwined with a sacredness that nourishes one’s mind, body and spirit with love as its steward.
Another new zen-like space in Delray is called Pause. Recently opened (on Swinton) this coffee house – spa – spiritual retreat is homey and cozy. They have candlelight yoga classes, as well as an exotic tea and coffee bar with light bites and boutique. Their mission is to create a friendly atmosphere that connects souls and heals bodies and minds. Run by aesthetician and life coach Kelly McCormick, they offer facials, guided meditation, Kirtans, skin care services and massage. Daughter Chloe Hill and brother Dustin are perfect companions for this spiritual enclave of goodness.
Fern Conn also heard the calling of Yoga and Spiritual enlightenment in Delray this year. Her studio, started with daughter Tyla, is called Dancing Lion. They offer yoga, guided meditation and workshops. They recently added Yin & Tonic events such as a yoga and acupuncture.
“People are yearning for connection and healing practices like yoga and meditation. We are a healing arts center,” said Fern.
Yoga, meditation and healing groups are not just an indoor sport in Delray. The spiritual aspects of this artsy town have flowed into its most precious landscape – the beach. A favorite – called Full Moon Manifesting – is held monthly on the beach (North of Atlantic Ave.) and includes sound healing, guided meditation (by Sunny) and live music (feelinggreatmeditate.com). It’s a great group of like-minded people seeking peace and inner contentment.
There are also festivals, like Yoga Fun Day, popping up around town. YFD will be held from Nov. 1-3 at Old School Square.
“I am on a mission to bring yoga to all, fight obesity and build strong communities,” Sam Grout, founder of Yoga Fun Day said. “People need to unplug and unwind, take a break from their computers, go outside and have fun.”